Microsoft announces Cortana Skill Kit, preview comes out early 2017

Microsoft today launched the Cortana Devices SDK, highlighting its ambitious plan to bring Cortana everywhere on everything – but the Cortana ecosystem doesn’t end with the devices, it only begins there.

Making Cortana available on every device imaginable is only the first time; Cortana needs to learn skills that it requires to please its users – that’s where the upcoming Skills Kit comes in.

The Skills

The Cortana Skills Kit allows developers to ‘port’ bots created with Microsoft’s Bot Framework and turn them into a ‘Skill’ for Cortana; developers can even repurpose existing code from an Alexa Skill and use it to make a Cortana Skill.

This ability will allow developers to integrate their web services with Cortana – something like the recent and Alexa integration, for example.

Cortana will also be able to suggest skills based on what users want.

If you ask Cortana for a cab, it can recommend apps like Uber; if calling an Uber is a skill that Cortana has already learned, users can just say “Hey Cortana, call me a cab” and Cortana will do all the hard work by itself.

Installing a skill wouldn’t require installing an application either – everything is online, pretty much the same way it works for Amazon’s Alexa.

The Private Preview & Availability

Microsoft plans on releasing Cortana Skill Kit for developers sometime in February 2017 – it will still be a preview, but you can ask for an invite to be a part of this preview over here.

For now, Microsoft has made the Skills Kit available in a private preview to select developers – folks like Expedia, who published their bot built with Microsoft Bot Framework to Cortana as a skill; the skill allows users to book hotels via Expedia.

You can read more about Cortana Skill Kit and the skills that some of the private preview developers have made for it on Microsoft’s official blog.

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