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10 Microsoft tools changing AI in 2018

By Pluralsight

It’s nearly impossible to have a conversation about emerging technologies today without mentioning artificial intelligence in some form. From chatbots to cognitive services, companies are battling to leverage AI to create efficiency in their organizations and improve customer experiences. 

AI capabilities that were once considered science fiction only five years ago have now become a reality through the efforts of tech titans like Microsoft. The company’s AI mission states they are “democratizing AI for every person and every organization.” Through numerous Microsoft tools, developers are bringing AI to the masses.  

“Microsoft is making AI ‘user-friendly’ by introducing SDKs and tools that make what would otherwise be a very complex and complicated process streamlined and simple.”

 – Matthew Kruczek, Director of Cognitive Services at Tallan and Pluralsight author

So, with all the buzz surrounding the growing abilities of AI, what’s shaping up to be a sure bet? We pooled the knowledge of Pluralsight subject-matter experts to list the top 10 Microsoft tools that will have the greatest impact in AI in 2018.

1. Cortana voice apps

Microsoft has continued to extend its influence in the field of chatbots by allowing developers to create bots on its flagship AI assistant platform Cortana. Utilizing the Microsoft Bot Framework and the new Cortana Skills Kit, developers can now publish bots that can be accessed through the Cortana interface.

2. Skype video chatbots

In an example of a true “next generation” technology showcase, the Skype platform has been updated to host video chatbots. Instead of typing back and forth with bots, users can now have a visual and auditory conversation with them. 

3. Bing Customized Search

Developers can leverage the power of Bing to create tailored search with this new service. Companies can embed search functionality on their sites that return relevant information for their target audiences.

4. Custom Vision Service

When Microsoft debuted its image recognition service at Build 2016, it introduced a powerful tool allowing developers to program facial and item recognition. The service has now been updated to allow for custom rules around object recognition. Look for more AI image search in Microsoft Photos.

5. Custom Decision Service

Implementing an effective machine learning algorithm can be a difficult task. With the new Custom Decision Service, developers can create and implement intelligent systems that will adapt to user interactions and feedback to maximize engagement.

6. Video Indexer

Microsoft has created a service called Video Indexer that will seamlessly analyze and categorize multiple aspects of uploaded video. Using this service, business are able to utilize facial searching and recognition, audio translation and transcription, and emotion and sentiment analysis.

7. Azure Bot Service

The newest iteration of the Azure Bot Service brings together the Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure services into one UI experience. Now developers can create and edit their bots through an Azure service without uploading a single line of code.

8. Adaptive Cards

Today’s chatbots can display text-based information in a rich and interactive way through plush UIs embedded within various channels. Developers face challenges as they program the iterations necessary to adhere to different UI standards. To combat this, Microsoft has created “Adaptive Cards.” This allows developers to describe their information in one universal format, which is then translated automatically into whichever rich channel UI is being utilized.

9. Bot payments

One thing lacking in the realm of chatbots is the ability to execute payment transactions through a chatbot interface.  Microsoft has augmented its Bot Framework SDK to interact with the W3 standardized Payment Request API—allowing developers to create a seamless checkout experience.

10. Bot analytics 

One of the most alluring aspects of chatbots is their ability to collect a myriad of analytical information. Microsoft has taken it one step further and built informational dashboards that showcase key pieces of information in an easy to read interface. 

Microsoft and others are only beginning to scratch the surface of tools and use cases. It’s an exciting space—one the whole world will be watching as technology advancements impact individuals, businesses and the entire global economy. Are you ready to take advantage of AI? Learn how to get started by building bots with Microsoft's Bot Framework.

About the author

Pluralsight is the technology skills platform. We enable individuals and teams to grow their skills, accelerate their careers and create the future.