Microsoft's acquisition of Wand Labs could spell a new era for conversational intelligence

Dan Kobialka, FierceDeveloper

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has acquired messaging app developer Wand Labs for an undisclosed sum, a move that could mean big things for both Microsoft and mobile developers. 

For Microsoft, Wand enables the company to move forward with its "Conversation as a Platform" goals that were outlined by CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft's Build conference earlier this year.

Also, the Wand team is expected to bring expertise in semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces to Microsoft. 

"Wand Labs' technology and talent will strengthen our position in the emerging era of conversational intelligence, where we bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence – connecting people to knowledge, information, services and other people in more relevant and natural ways," David Ku, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Information Platform Group, wrote in a blog post. "It builds on and extends the power of the Bing, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere."

Meanwhile, Wand CEO Vishal Sharma said his company will shut down its service, which means developers no longer will get to test its PlugIn API. 

Wand's PlugIn API provided developers with access to Wand's platform and was designed to help them "create shareable experiences like never before," Wand noted. 

However, Sharma pointed out that developers should expect to see "familiar elements of [his company's] work in the future," a sign that Microsoft may be preparing to leverage elements of Wand's platform in other ways.

Let's not forget about the concept of "conversational interfaces," a major theme at Build, either.

Microsoft's push for conversational interfaces, i.e. giving mobile device users the ability to interact with one another in many ways, is ongoing. And with the acquisition of Wand, Microsoft now boasts added support in its drive to deliver engaging conversational interfaces to mobile device users worldwide. 

Wand enables developers to make it easier for apps to talk to one another. It allows users to share or grant access to apps and services – even if contacts and peers do not have those apps or services on their own devices.

Thus, Wand provides Microsoft with a powerful tool, one that may change the way it fosters long-lasting partnerships with mobile developers and end users. - Dan, @FierceDeveloper

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