Microsoft Opens AI Assistant to Third Party Development

Microsoft has announced a preview version of Cortana Skills Kit, a software development kit aimed at getting third party developers to work on new functionality for the voice-controlled AI platform. The move seems to be inspired by Amazon and Apple. With Amazon playbook, Amazon refined its Alexa voice assistant after launching its own Alexa Skills Kit in 2015. And, Apple opened its Siri platform to third party development last year.

In a blog post announcing the Cortana Skills Kit, Microsoft asserted that Cortana skills aren’t limited to one platform or device—they work across Windows 10, Android, iOS and soon on even more devices and form factors — like Xbox, the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker and inside cars and mixed reality devices.

The post claims there are over 145M monthly active users of Cortana worldwide. The Cortana Skills Kit already has some major partners on board to take advantage of it, including Capital One, Liberty Mutual, UPS, Expedia, Stubhub, Food Network, Uber, HP and Dominos.