Way back in 2016, Microsoft revealed an AI-powered chat bot located at a website Calendar.help. This was a Cortana integration that helps users schedule meetings and has been in preview for the last six years. It now seems Microsoft is preparing to make the bot generally available and is called Scheduler.
Typing in the Scheduler.microsoft.com URL redirects to the Calendar.help location. To know more about the tool, Microsoft will be holding sessions showcasing the chat bot at Ignite 2019 in November.
One of the sessions focused on Scheduler shows that Microsoft sees the bot as a personal assistant.
“We've been working to create a digital assistant that can help you schedule meetings so there are no more back and forth emails. Learn how you can delegate the creation of your meetings to Scheduler. Scheduler uses natural language processing to understand your needs and negotiate an appropriate time with your invitees, find you a room, and add an online meeting.”
Microsoft Scheduler has been designed to save time for users looking to create meetings. By putting Cortana in control, the AI bot can automate schedules through conversational computing. The new service brings together efforts from Microsoft Research, Outlook, and Cortana.
In 2016, Microsoft acquired Genee, a specialist in AI calendaring technology. The company's expertise was put to use in the development of Calendar.help.
“When you write the email, give Cortana instructions by including natural language to specify the 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”). Alternatively, you can set-up default preferences in advance and Cortana will use those settings without additional commands.”
Once an email is sent, Cortana automatically checks your calendar to check your schedule. Learning a schedule, the digital assistant will then send invites based on times you are available. Invitees who respond will be managed by Cortana until a shared available time for the meeting is agreed on.
Microsoft says that Cortana will maintain a real-like conversation with invitees and follow up if there is no reply within 48 hours.