Microsoft's Bot Framework now works with the Botkit platform thanks to a new integration. This means that Microsoft Bot developers will be able to make bots for Slack. In reverse, Botkit users can now develop their bots for other platforms. The integration was announced to VentureBeat.
Botkit development has been limited to just Slack and Facebook before this integration. Now, developers will be able to build for other platforms, like Twilio and Skype. The Microsoft Bot Framework has gained traction since its launch and now has 45,000 developers. Howdy (company behind Botkit) CEO Ben Brown says thousands develop on the platform.
Howdy has already had much success on Slack. The company's task automation bot is among the most popular on the platform. Slack adopted Howdy's Botkit as its exclusive bot platform when the company expanded to this party development in December last year.
Interestingly, the announcement of the new bot integration comes the same week Slack's CEO was dismissive of the importance of bots. Speaking to Fortune, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said people overestimate how innovative bots are, at least in the short term:
“People tend to overestimate the short-term impact of technological change. In the short-term, it's not going to make that much of a difference.”
Microsoft Bots on Slack
Microsoft has not yet explored enterprise avenues for bots. Principal software engineer, Steve Ickman, says that will soon change. The company has a number of business-oriented bots in development and they should be available in the coming months.
“Howdy and the folks at Microsoft are very open to and very interested in a level playing field, but also a better developer experience,” Brown told VentureBeat. “The better the tools, and the more cross-platform and cross-framework the tools can be, the easier it's going to be for people to actually be successful building bots.”
This cross-company collaboration on bots may surprise some. Slack and Microsoft are competitors and the former is an increasing thorn in Redmond's side. Slack has grown rapidly and its services encroach on a number of Microsoft's products, chiefly Skype.