At this year’s BUILD conference Microsoft announced it was launching a brand new platform that will allow developers to create and distribute bots. Now that platform, dubbed simply the Bot Framework, is a step closer to reality with the company getting ready to launch the Bot Directory.
The Bot Directory is meant to be a user-facing aggregator of all the bots publicly available, developed with the Bot Framework. From here, users can enable and disable bots in their applications like Skype and Slack. With its launch taking place shortly, Microsoft is now taking bot submissions from developers, which will be published at launch.
There’s another big change that Microsoft announced, in an e-mail to developers, and that’s the addition of Facebook Messenger as a channel where bots can now be deployed. Both Facebook and Microsoft have expressed a great interest in this area so it’s no surprise that Microsoft is looking to have access to Facebook's incredible number of social users. According to the e-mail:
The Bot Directory, the public directory of bots registered with Bot Framework, is now open to developers for bot submission and review. The Bot Directory itself isn't live yet, but when it is available, users will be able to discover, try, and add bots to their favorite conversation experiences.
Beginning today, those favorite conversation experiences can include Facebook Messenger. With the addition of Facebook Messenger as a supported channel, now your text, image, card, and button capable bots can reach more people across an even broader variety of the world's top conversation experiences – from Skype, to Slack to Text/SMS, Office 365 mail and more.
Finally, Microsoft announced that since BUILD it has seen more than 20,000 developers express interest in developing bots and using the company’s platform.
Bots and artificial intelligence applications are seen as possibly “the next big thing” for businesses, so it’s very important that Microsoft’s launch goes well. It’s not clear when the Bot Directory will actually become public, but it probably won’t be very long now.