Microsoft proclaims plan to purchase XOXCO, the creator of Slack's Howdy bot

Microsoft Virtual Assistant Toolkit

The company created Howdy, the first bot for collaboration platform Slack that helps schedule meetings, and Botkit, a developer tool for building chat bots, apps, and custom integration which is available today to developers on GitHub, which Microsoft officially acquired in October.

In a latest push for AI, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced that it will go through with the acquisition of XOXCO, a software product design and development studio known for its conversational AI and bot development capabilities.

In the last six months alone, Microsoft has acquired conversational AI firm Semantic Machines, AI machine teaching specialist Bonsai and Lobe, which created a visual interface which facilitates the development of AI and deep learning models without writing code. "Over the years, we have partnered with XOXCO and have been inspired by this work", Microsoft said in a blog post by Lili Cheng, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Conversational AI.

Supporting over 360,000 developers, the Microsoft Bot Framework is available in Azure and GitHub. Meanwhile, Microsoft is repositioning Cortana, its personal digital assistant - which isn't as popular as rivals like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa - as a productivity aide, according to ZDNet. After making several offensive comments, including stating that it supported genocide, Microsoft pulled the plug on it.

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Earlier this week, Microsoft released guidelines for companies that are building chatbots to ensure they are "responsible and trustworthy", and avoid the embarrassing problems faced by

Microsoft also announced other additions to its AI platform, including Cognitive Service Containers which allows developers to run AI-based services on internet connected devices and the new Virtual Assistant Accelerator solution pulls together some AI tools such as speech-to-text, natural language processing and an action engine into a single place to simplify bot creation.

XOXCO was initially founded in 2009, though the company came into bot development in 2013.

It has attracted investment from workplace messaging startup Slack along with Bloomberg Beta, Betaworks, True Ventures and Outlier Ventures. Financial experts continue to evaluate the recent Microsoft $44.6 billion (?22.4 billion) offer for Yahoo and the possible impact on Internet market now dominated by Google.


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