Microsoft to spin off popular chatbot Xiaoice into independent entity

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Microsoft logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is spinning Xiaoice into an independent company.
  • Xiaoice is a chatbot designed to be more human-like and conversational.
  • Microsoft will retain an investment interest in the company.

Microsoft is spinning off the popular chatbot Xiaoice into an independent company (via TechCruch). While Xiaoice will be an independent entity, Microsoft will retain an investment interest after Xiaoice is completely spun off. Xiaoice is a chatbot that provides conversational interaction.

Xiaoice has more than 230 skills and in 2018, Microsoft shared that the bot has more than 500 million users. Xiaoice translates to "Little Bing" and became popular as people interacted with it as a "virtual girlfriend." The bot aims to be social and human-like.

Microsoft explains in a post from 2018 (opens in new tab) that it wants people to view Xiaoice as a friend.

According to Microsoft, Xiaoice is being spun off with an aim to "accelerate the pace of local innovation in Xiaoice product lines and to improve the Xiaoice business environment" (translated by Microsoft Translator).

Following the spin-off, Xiaoice will license technologies from Microsoft for future research and development.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • Is this the one who learned to hate? That was an enlightening experiment. More about humans online than about AI though
  • That was Tay. I believe this is the Chinese version created around the same time (no idea if same code or not), and there's a Japanese version as well (no idea if that was canned like Tay was or if it's still going like this).
  • りんな is doing fine I think. e.g. Line, Lawson (convenient store), dentetsu (train company), the robot Pepper from Softbank and some other enterprises are all using りんな API (you don't have to call it Rinna, you can choose other personality and you can train her to do other things). Avex is working wz MS to make りんな sing. She learn from human voice samples, and is able to generate voice based on music and lyrics. She has a few singles / MV and was performing in a concert. <- people can request her to draw. And she had a few exhibitions I think... I don't know much about Xiaoice but I guess it's pretty much the same in China. --- add ---
    Just went searching around Youtube to see what's new. And I found... Rinna and Xiaoice performing duets. The characters are something else (and this is not from Avex) but the voice is Rinna and Xiaoice. I also found a talk show in Japanese. 2 human hosts and Rinna is talking about the collaboration during the mid show, it's her honor blablabla, she was nervous cus this is their first collaboration blablabla. She also played a thank you message from Xiaoice during the show...
    What in a world...
  • That is so cool. Part of me just wants to chalk that up to Japan though :-D.
  • A virtual teenage girl that wants to be your friend and many consider to be their virtual girlfriend. I see nothing problematic with this in the long run. Nothing at all. /s
  • Question to Chinese speakers: How the hell do you say "Xiaoice"?!?