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Microsoft acquires Wand Labs to redefine online conversations

Whether or not Microsoft has completed fully integrating LinkedIn within its organizational setup, that isn’t stopping it from going for yet another acquisition. This time, it’s Wand Labs that will cease to have its independent existence and will end up giving shape to the “conversation as a platform” dreams that CEO Nadella spoke of at length during its Build conference earlier this year.

Its Wand Lab’s expertise in “semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces” that has made it the right fit towards achieving Microsoft’s bigger goal of developing intelligent agents and chat bots. Part of the newly acquired expertise will go towards making Bing even more capable and responsible, which in turn will make Cortana, Microsoft’s smart digital assistant more adept in dealing with human requests.

“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,” said David Ku, Corporate Vice President, Information Platform Group. “It builds on and extends the power of the Bing, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

The financial terms of the deal are however a closely guarded secret even though we know Microsoft splurged $26.2 billion towards acquiring LinkedIn. Wand Labs had managed to raise less than $3 million in funding, mentioned a report in CrunchBase.

Wands Labs is also relatively young in that it was set up in 2013 by Vishal Sharma, who in turn has come to be known for his extensive expertise in the fields of search and knowledge.

Microsoft is betting big on bots or intelligent snippets of computer code that can interact with humans in the way we humans interact among us. For that to happen, not only will the software be able to process what it has been asked to, it will also need to have enough AI abilities to get going with the human race.

In Microsoft-speak, that is going to be the standard way for humans to interact with a computer in future. In fact, that is also the enthusiasm that is shared in the entire tech town with every major company such as Google, Facebook, Apple and so on investing in AI and machine learning techniques.