Microsoft throwing Windows 10, Cortana and Skype at smart homes

15 Dec 2016

Skype on smartphone. Image: Fotos593/Shutterstock

Microsoft is gearing up for a really interesting 2017, with Skype opening up its calling API to outside developers. Pretty soon, Windows 10 will follow your every move.

Skype is excited. A few months after it revealed its toe-dipping entry into conversational commerce, the Microsoft-owned company is branching out.

Starting next year, Skype will open up its API to some client companies, allowing them to build tools around the Skype calling function. This is all part of what the company calls “the new world of conversational computing”.


Some upcoming tools have already been named, with an Expedia chatbot allowing customers to verbally search for hotels, quickly book or manage reservations, and confirm or cancel hotels and flights.

Another example is UPS, allowing customers to chat to a bot over Skype and manage their deliveries.

Conversational commerce is one of the takeaway themes of 2016, as a growing number of major tech companies poured resources into a new dawn for products and services.

In September, Google snapped up API.AI, a natural language and speech recognition company. The same month, Oracle CTO Larry Ellison showed how his company’s tools could help the likes of Facebook Messenger with its conversational commerce model in future.

For Facebook itself, the autumn release of Messenger Platform v1.2 allowed developers to build capabilities that allow businesses to “drive engagement, build retention and facilitate meaningful relationships with people”.

Microsoft thinks Skype should be no different, and it follows a general theme from the company at the moment.

Last week, the company revealed its Amazon-challenging Project Evo partnership with Intel, which will see the duo push Cortana on Windows 10 through to 2017 PCs, creating a more hands-free relationship between customers and tech.

Far-field communication and voice activation, new security capabilities, mixed reality and new gaming capabilities are the four areas to be developed – though it’s the former which is most interesting.

Much like the Amazon Echo, instead of having to walk up to a PC to communicate with Cortana, customers will be able to simply speak normally from across a room when this partnership comes to fruition.

With Cortana, Skype and Windows 10 combining, it’s quite the power play from Microsoft. But even more so, it’s evidence that this is a serious area of interest among all major tech companies.

Skype on smartphone. Image: Fotos593/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic