Beyond Analytics: The Cortana Intelligence Suite

Goodbye Cortana Analytics. Hello Cortana Intelligence.

In an announcement at the Build conference today, Microsoft revealed the changing face of Cortana Analytics for Azure. More than simple semantic changes, the Cortana Intelligence Suite now includes the new Bot Framework. Cortana Intelligence also reflects the inclusion of the Project Oxford APIs as Cognitive Services. In addition to placing greater focus on “intelligence” via perceptual capabilities and bots, it signals a shift toward more automated delivery and communication of that intelligence. “Conversation as a Platform” was the phrase used in the Build keynote today.

Bot Framework

Want to build solutions that can see and hear the world around you? Want to more naturally converse with bots to obtain insights? Beyond viewing dashboards or asking Cortana, you can now create and interact with your own advanced messaging services through the Bot Framework to relay information and insights. Build your own AI bot that understands natural language, etc. Optionally enhance it with your own machine learning models and training data (a bot can be created without any ML knowledge though). Finally, interact with it.

Cognitive Services

Twenty two APIs are now available to enhance your solutions. APIs fall into Vision, Speech, Language, Knowledge, and Search categories. The APIs have both a limited free and a standard tier. Build a solution, for example, that uses computer vision to recognize objects and return classifications as well as confidence scores. You can sign up through the Azure Portal or on the Cognitive Services subscription page.


The NEW: Cortana Intelligence


The OLD: Cortana Analytics



Summary of Changes:

  1. Cortana Analytics is now Cortana Intelligence
  2. Cognitive Services: a subset of Project Oxford and gallery APIs will now be known as Cognitive Services in Azure (i.e. Face API from Project Oxford, Recommendations from the Gallery). Both a free and standard tier are available.
  3. Bot Framework: a portal and SDK to create bots, a connector service to interact with social channels, and a directory of existing bots


Cortana Intelligence Gallery

Cortana Intelligence Gallery


Cognitive Services Accounts Preview in Azure Portal

Cognitive Services APIs


Sample Bots from Bot Framework

Sample Bots

Sample Domino’s Pizza Ordering Bot


Sample Bot Conversation in Skype
(Cortana interacting with Cups and Cakes bot)


These announcements come right on the heels of yesterday’s upgrades to the Azure data platform that coincide with the Strata + Hadoop World conference, which include:

  1. General availability of Data Catalog
  2. HDInsight upgrades for version 3.4
    1. Spark upgraded to 1.6 (here come Datasets!)
    2. Introduction of R Server for HDInsight
    3. Standard vs Premium tier


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