Microsoft may have failed big time when it launched the Tay bot on Twitter earlier in 2016, but the company isn’t totally done with chatbots just yet. In fact, it is now giving the chatbot another go-around on the Kik messaging app.
The new bot is called Zo and according to a report from MSPoweruser is basically just an English-language version of the company’s Chinese bot, Xiaoice which, according to the report, is basically a censored version of Tay. Like its Chinese counterpart, the bot is aimed at being able to hold conversations with users.
It was an interesting choice for Microsoft to launch the bot on Kik, especially considering the somewhat limited number of users on the platform. Perhaps the decision was made as a beta and the company is testing the bot on Kik’s limited number of users before it launches it on more platforms. Or perhaps Microsoft wanted to ensure that a disaster on the scale of Tay could not be replicated.
Still, Kik has been upfront with its embrace of chatbots, and it even created a bot store in April with the purpose of helping developers try out new artificially intelligent software. When it was first launched, the store included bots from the likes of Weather Channel, Vine, and Funny or Die. Some have noted Zo is particularly good at talking about Microsoft’s own products, but can easily stop making sense even in day-to-day conversation.
Microsoft still has yet to officially announce Zo or what it can do, but if you are a Kik user you can give the new bot a try by heading to the Zo “early access” page.