January 21, 2021
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Why Developers Should Embrace Microsoft Agent

  • By Mack Male
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A lot of technologies have come and gone over the years, others have just taken a back seat. Technologies like 'push' were great for a while, then they kind of died off. But now a new technology is picking up steam and it’s more likely to stay. Developers everywhere, brace yourselves for Microsoft Agent.

First of all we had better get to know more about Agent. It was created by Microsoft Research labs and was released in the fall of 1997. A good way of putting it is to say that Microsoft Agents are like really cool Office Assistants. And at first glance, they might appear to be just that. But really, once you get to know the technology, you’ll see that they are so much more. They are a user interface like none other we have ever seen before. Responding to spoken input, speaking back at you, and personified, these characters are truly amazing.

Microsoft Agent is programmed in Visual Basic with the greatest ease. Any language that supports ActiveX will work, but VB and VBScript are the easiest. Agents make wonderful additions to help files as they relax the user and can help them find information more quickly. They would make great game opponents or the main interface for a setup wizard. Agents are already in use as the tour guides of web sites.

MS Agent was recently released in version 2.0. Microsoft Office 2000 now supports Agent technology and uses it as the base for the Office Assistants. Windows 2000 is slated to include the technology. There are only a few little problems keeping Agent back from the entire world. Agent only works on Windows operating systems, and unless you have a special plug-in, it will not work in Netscape, only Internet Explorer. When these few changes are made for version 3.0, along with a lot of the other cool features Microsoft has promised, Agent will not be forgotten. Microsoft has already said that the abilities of Agent 3.0 could never have been incorporated into version 2.0.

Now why is Microsoft Agent going to stay when so many other technologies have faded? Well the answer is simple. Voice. Industry analysts agree that voice enabled and activated products will be the wave of the future. Receiving e-mail and fax in your car will be done via voice. And the biggest reason Microsoft Agent will be the leader in voice interfaces is because it is a Microsoft product. So is the Windows operating system. One day in the not too distant future we are going to see a version of Windows based on Microsoft Agent technology. Visual Basic is rapidly becoming an alternative to C++. And that’s why VB developers should embrace Microsoft Agent now.

If you would like to know more about Microsoft Agent, please check out the links I have provided below:


This article was originally published on November 20, 2002

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