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Cortana Skills Kit and Devices SDK, New Calendar.help Preview for Cortana

At the Tuesday event in SF, Microsoft shared how Cortana, in partnership with Harman Kardon, will be present in a new way in your home and announced that more than 67,000 developers are now using Microsoft’s Bot Framework and Cognitive Services.

Also announced were the new ‘Cortana Skills Kit’ and ‘Cortana Devices SDK’, latest addition to the vision of Cortana as the interface where all the powers of artificial intelligence can become an extension of each person.

The Cortana Skills Kit is designed to help developers reach the growing audience of 145 million Cortana users, helping users get things done while driving discovery and engagement across Windows, Android, iOS, Xbox and new Cortana-powered devices.

Developers can also leverage bots created with the Microsoft Bot Framework and publish them to Cortana as a new skill, to integrate their web services as skills and to repurpose code from their existing Alexa skills to create Cortana skills.

The Cortana Devices SDK will allow computer and device manufacturers to create a new generation of smart, personal devices – on no screen or the big screen, in homes and on wheels.

Microsoft also shared that Cortana can now set up meetings outside your organization for you using new ‘Calendar.help’ function.

The new feature is part of a Microsoft incubation project code-named “Calendar.help,” gives Cortana the ability to arrange meetings on your behalf. By delegating scheduling tasks to Cortana, so “you can focus on getting things done rather than wasting time emailing back and forth with calendar proposals,” writes Office team.

Calendar.help is the latest project in a series of coordinated investments across Microsoft that bring together artificial intelligence (AI), conversational computing and calendaring.

To use this service, first sign up for the preview Calendar.help (in waitlist), once you are accepted into the program, “when you write an email, just give Cortana instructions by including natural language to specify length of the meeting (e.g. “let’s make this one 90 minutes”), timing (e.g. “sometime next week”) and location (“make this a Skype meeting”)”, after the email is send, Cortana looks at your calendar to find times available and then reaches out to the invitees to propose times.

Since, “Cortana directly communicates with attendees, and as attendees reply with their availability, Cortana keeps the conversation moving forward until a time that works for everyone is found, and if attendees don’t respond within 48 hours, it follows them and once the date and time are confirmed, Cortana creates an event in your calendar with all the details and then sends out an invite to everyone,” Office team explained.

Alternatively, you can aldo set-up default preferences in advance and “Cortana will use those settings without additional commands.”

See the picutres below for more information on how this serivce works:

schedule meeting by adding Cortana to Cc line

schedule meeting by adding Cortana to Cc line

Cortana handles back and forth of scheduling

Cortana handles back and forth of scheduling

Cortana sends confirmation calendar event to attendee from your calendar

Cortana sends confirmation calendar event to attendee from your calendar

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