An Overview of Microsoft Bing Bots

Wednesday Jun 14th 2017 by Hannes DuPreez
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A Web robot is an application that can run automated tasks, which are usually structurally repetitive. Bots can perform these tasks much faster than humans.

Bots

A bot, or Web robot, is the most common bot system. A Web robot is an application that can run automated tasks. These tasks are usually structurally repetitive and bots can perform these tasks much faster than humans. Because of the speed at which bots can perform tasks, they also can be implemented where the needed response speed is faster than how a human can respond and process information.

Bots also can be used to emulate human activity. An example of this is a chat bot similar to IRC and IM. Bots also have the ability to mimic human conversation. Wikipedia explains bots much better than I can…

The Microsoft Bot Framework

The Microsoft Bot Framework is a communication service that helps connect your bots with different communication channels, such as SMS and e-mail. If, for example, you write a conversational bot that exposes a Microsoft Bot Framework-compatible API on the Internet, the Microsoft Bot Framework Connector will forward messages from your Bot to a user, and also send user messages back to your Bot.

Bing

Bing is a search engine operated and owned by Microsoft. Bing replaced Microsoft's previous search engines: MSN Search, Windows Live Search, and later Live Search.

Microsoft Build 2017

Microsoft Build is an annual conference held by Microsoft that is aimed towards software engineers and Web developers using Windows, Windows Phone, Microsoft Azure, and other Microsoft technologies.

Bot Framework Changes

Microsoft Build 2017 introduced a few changes to its Bot Framework. These changes include the following:

New Channels

Three new channels have been made available. These channels increases your bot's reach to an even bigger Microsoft audience. These channels are Cortana, Bing, and Skype for Business.

Adaptive Cards

Adaptive Cards provide developers an easier way to compose user experiences that span devices and modalities.

Bot Payments

Build a payment-enabled bot and streamline the checkout process.

Cortana

Cortana is extended via Cortana Skills, which allows bots created via the Bot Framework to be published to the Cortana Channel as a new skill.

Language Understanding (LUIS)

Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS), part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, helps developers integrate language models that understand users quickly and easily, using either pre-built or customized models.

Speech

The Bot Framework has added support for speech throughout the platform.

Documentation

All aspects of documentation for the Bot Framework have been updated, including new articles, a more intuitive layout, and integration into the docs.microsoft.com infrastructure for a uniform end-user experience.

Bot Analytics

Bot Analytics is a standard suite of analytics that provides metrics for bot developers. It includes user retention rates, message rates, and related operational metrics.

Publishing Flow

The process by which bots connect to channels has been reworked to allow better integration and fidelity on a channel-by-channel basis.

Azure Bot Service V.Next

The next iteration of the Azure Bot Service will provide a one-stop-shop development experience.

Chat Bots on Bing

Following Microsoft's annual Build event earlier in May, Microsoft has announced a few new features in their Bing search engine. Bing will now support chatting bots. Microsoft's Bot Framework bots are directly integrated into all Bing search results whenever it is relevant. These bots that meet all the Bing Channel requirements are directly launchable on Bing and available on any browser.

To discover bots in Bing, simply type in a search phrase followed by the word bots into Bing.com's search area. In Figure 1, I have typed in the phrase "news bots" into Bing, and it took me to the getnewsbot Web site. Here, it showed me how to add this bot to my browser, which is Chrome:

News bot in Chrome
Figure 1: News bot in Chrome

In Internet Explorer, I have typed in "Travel Bots", and navigated to the first item in the list, as shown in Figure 2.

Travel bots in Internet Explorer
Figure 2: Travel bots in Internet Explorer

By the looks of it, Microsoft seems to be favoring their products more when it comes to Bing bots. In Figure 2, you clearly can see which platforms are supported (Facebook, Telegram, Slack, and Kik). It lists existing bots that you can install very quickly, and there is even an online chat option.

Bing Bot Categories

Bing Bot categories include the following:

  • Analytics bots
  • Broadcast bots
  • Communication bots
  • Customer Support bots
  • Design bots
  • Development bots
  • Documents bots
  • Education bots
  • Entertainment bots
  • Games bots
  • Health & Lifestyle bots
  • HR bots
  • Marketing bots
  • Media bots
  • Money bots
  • News bots
  • Personal bots
  • Productivity & Workflow bots
  • Security bots
  • Social bots (see Figure 3)
  • Travel bots
  • Utilities bots

Social bots
Figure 3: Social bots

Building Bots for Bing

The Bot Framework includes Bot Builder to give you the tools you need to develop bots. Bot Builder is an open-source SDK with support for .NET, Node.js, and REST.

The Microsoft Bot Builder SDK provides just what you need to build and connect intelligent bots that interact naturally wherever your users are talking, from text/SMS to Skype, Slack, Office 365 mail, and other popular services.

Publishing Your Bot on Bing

Publishing a bot on Bing is easy. Open the bot on the Developer Portal, click the Channels tab, and then click Bing.

Conclusion

Microsoft keeps moving the benchmark of technology. With Bing Bots, chatting becomes easy and finding information is much quicker.

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