Back in December, Microsoft announced the Cortana Skills Kit and Devices SDK. At the same time, it teased a new Cortana-powered speaker that will be made by Harman Kardon, which will be coming this fall.
But while we've learned more about Harman Kardon's Invoke since then, the Cortana Skills Kit has remained in limbo. In February, Microsoft opened registrations for a preview, and later that month, it was reported that the Skills Kit would arrive on the 27th, which never happened.
Today, the firm is finally launching a public preview of the Cortana Skills Kit. The SDK will allow developers to create third-party 'skills' by "creating a bot and publishing it to the new Cortana channel of the Bot Framework." Naturally, skills will be available on all platforms where Cortana is available, but at the moment, it's only in the United States.
Skills are something that has been important to the growth of Amazon's Alexa platform, which adds functionality such as paying your Capital One bill or playing Jeopardy. It would seem that in order for Microsoft's venture into smart speakers to be successful, it will need that same kind of developer support.
Many skills are already available for Microsoft's Cortana platform, including Domino's Pizza, Dark Sky, iHeartRadio, OpenTable, TuneIn, Cat Facts, and more.