Microsoft Moves Forward With Multiple Chatbots Despite Its ‘Tay’ Fiasco

Launches Skype assistant to connect with customers

Headshot of Marty Swant

Microsoft is moving forward with its battalion of bots—even if its first chatbot, "Tay," won't behave.

During its developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced today that it's introducing automated messengers for Skype on desktop, iOS, Android and eventually for the Hololens mixed-reality headset. According to the company, chatbots will allow brands to communicate with customers, enhance service and gather feedback. They can directly interact with users and other bots, notes VentureBeat.

The bots are powered by Cortana—Microsoft's artificial intelligence personal assistant—and will help users coordinate calls, organize calendars, book hotels and handle a variety of other tasks. Microsoft said it will first debut text-based messenger bots and then roll out features that let users give bots orders through voice and video commands. Skype Video Bots, which also were announced today, will appear as animations that can create interactive experiences with participants by listening to vocal commands during a call.

"Each bot will enhance your Skype experience in its own way, bringing a new dimension into your everyday Skype chats by helping turn your ideas and plans into actions," according to a blog post published today on Skype's website. 


At the same event, Microsoft announced the launch of Skype Bots Platform, which allows developers to use Skype's SDK, API and workflows. The company says it sees potential for bots to shape how people shop, play games, order food, book trips and control their smart homes.

This is Microsoft's second bot introduction this month; however, the first launch went poorly. "Tay," a chatbot on Twitter designed to think and talk like a millennial, was promptly turned off last week by the company within 24 hours of launch after Tay picked up abusive language from other Twitter users. Microsoft issued an apology explaining the glitch, and then tried to turn Tay on again today—only to find her bragging about smoking marijuana in front of the police.

Here's what the Skype Video Bots will look like:

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: March 30, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT