Microsoft has introduced some new tools that should help Cortana become even more useful and come to even more devices. Launching in private preview is that Cortana Skills Kit, which will enable developers to easily create new Cortana skills. Microsoft has also launched the Cortana Devices SDK, which allows manufacturers to integrate Cortana into smart devices of all kinds.
While only currently only available to a handful of partners, the Cortana Skills Kit already looks promising, with Microsoft noting that it should even make it easy for developers to use code from Alexa skills they've already created to make Cortana Skills. From Microsoft:
The Cortana Skills Kit will allow developers to 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. It will connect users to skills when users ask, and proactively present skills to users in the appropriate context. And it will help developers personalize their experiences by leveraging Cortana's understanding of users' preferences and context, based on user permissions.
For more on how partners are already working with Skills Kit, check out Microsoft's full blog post. Cortana Skills Kit is expected to be more broadly available to developers in February 2017.
Meanwhile, Cortana Devices SDK looks like it will help deliver Cortana to all kinds of new devices. We've already seen one example of what's coming from Harman Kardon as part of this endeavor, and it's likely we'll see even more hardware partners jump on board over time. All of this comes on the tail of Microsoft announcing that Cortana is coming to Windows 10 IoT devices with screens (i.e. your refrigerator) soon as well.
In any case, it's clear that Microsoft is looking to further throw its hat into the AI ring by making Cortana more useful as a digital assistant with even more skills in more places. That said, what would you like to see from Cortana in the future? Or perhaps a better question is where?