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Flow is Microsoft’s answer to IFTTT

IFTTT (If This Then That) is looking at big competition as Microsoft enters the fray for automated processes. A blog post shows Microsoft has been taking a good look at IFTTTs formula because its new Microsoft Flow service seems awkwardly similar. It’s more limited than IFTTT, which makes perfect sense since it’s still in its preview stages. But with Microsoft at the wheel, it’s got huge potential.

Automated workflows like those constructed in IFTTT basically exist to kill the more arduous and time-consuming tasks of your everyday life. Perhaps you don’t want the IoT door to your room to lock itself when you boot up your gaming console, or perhaps you want an automated response sent to anyone who calls when the phone is in silent mode? Automated processes are the epitome of convenience, and with this, one of the world’s leading software companies is battling it out to create the best automation service available.

Not all services are available, of course — skimming through the company’s automation templates reveal that you’re limited to mainly using Microsoft’s products if you want to make the most of it. Third-party services that are supported include Slack, GitHub, Twitter, and Google Drive. Here are two of the current most-popular flows available when you sign up for the service: “Create a to-do item in Wunderlist for important emails,” and “Copy new files in Dropbox to a specific folder on OneDrive.”

The blog post details more specific scenarios in which the development team is using Flow. “We have been working on some blog posts to help you understand and get started with flow, and even to debug them, and we wanted to be sure that all of the posts were reviewed and approved,” writes Stephen Siciliano, principal group PM manager for Microsoft Flow. “We created a simple approval workflow that asks me if the blog is ready, and if it is the flow copies it to a folder called Final.”

Automated processes like those handled by Microsoft Flow and IFTTT are still very much in their infancy. It can often be a bit complicated to get your head around the concept and how flows scale. IFTTT has established itself on the market since a long time back, and it’s implemented the app support it needs to keep it relevant. Microsoft, on the other hand barely supports more than 35 services. That’s a measly sum compared to the more than 300 services provided via IFTTT. But Microsoft brings to the table a wide range of skills and artificial intelligence. The company is unlikely to let those qualities go to waste as it moves forward.

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Dan Isacsson
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