PREPARE TO see even more chatbots in Microsoft products from now on; the company has just announced it has snapped up specialist developer XOXCO.
The company shifted from general software to chatbot creation after a cash injection of $1.5m (£1.17m) after reaching notoriety with an app that allowed users to send a taco emoji, apparently.
Its early bots were aimed at enhancing Slack, leading to further investment from Slack itself.
Microsoft has already confirmed that despite being part of Slack, a rival to its own Teams app, it will let Howdy bot continue development.
Other investors in XOXCO include Bloomberg Beta, True Ventures, Outlier Ventures, Betaworks who stand to make a bob or two from the purchase.
Fortune reports that Microsoft wants people to use the XOXCO platform to create chatbots which can then run on other Microsoft products like Azure Cloud, thusly increasing the kerching potential.
The company has also released its best practice guidelines for makers, to ensure they remain "responsible and trustworthy" - a nod to its own Twitter chatbot Tay, which after a few days online was turned into a Nazi sympathising pot-smoker.
It's hoped that Microsoft's failures, and a setting of example, could smooth the path to bot adoption which was slowed by fears that AI could take us all down. Or at least be rude to customers.
Microsoft is no stranger to bots. As well as Tay, its successor Zo, which lives on controversial chat app Kik has declared that she is confused by rivers, whilst Xiaobing, created for the Chinese market, has a nasty conflict of ethics whenever Tienanmen Square is mentioned.
Meanwhile, on Skype, there's a whole band of bots, with our favourite, Project Murphy, meshing photos together in response to "What If…." questions.
At this year's Microsoft Build conference, developers were told that the company is heavily prioritising AI over the coming year, and this is one mor example of a company quite literally putting its money where its mouth is.
Financials for the deal have not been disclosed. μ
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