Introduction to Microsoft Agent
Microsoft® Agent is a set of programmable software
services that supports the presentation of interactive
animated characters within the Microsoft Windows®
interface. Developers can use characters as interactive
assistants to introduce, guide, entertain, or otherwise
enhance their Web pages or applications in addition to
the conventional use of windows, menus, and controls.
Microsoft Agent enables software developers and Web
authors to incorporate a new form of user interaction,
known as conversational interfaces, that leverages
natural aspects of human social communication. In
addition to mouse and keyboard input, Microsoft Agent
includes optional support for speech recognition so
applications can respond to voice commands. Characters
can respond using synthesized speech, recorded audio, or
text in a cartoon word balloon.
The conversational interface approach facilitated by the
Microsoft Agent services does not replace conventional
graphical user interface (GUI) design. Instead, character
interaction can be easily blended with the conventional
interface components such as windows, menus, and controls
to extend and enhance your application's interface.
Microsoft Agent's programming interfaces make it easy to
animate a character to respond to user input. Animated
characters appear in their own window, providing maximum
flexibility for where they can be displayed on the screen.
Microsoft Agent includes an ActiveX® control that makes
its services accessible to programming languages that
support ActiveX, including Web scripting languages such
as Visual Basic® Scripting Edition (VBScript). This
means that character interaction can be programmed even
from HTML pages using the <OBJECT> tag.
Microsoft Agent version 2.0 provides unprecedented
technology to create innovative, new conversational
interfaces for applications and Web pages. It provides
powerful animation capability, interactivity, and
versatility, with incredible ease of development.
Microsoft Agent is a technology that provides a
foundation for more natural ways for people to
communicate with their computers. It is a set of software
services that enable developers to incorporate
interactive animated characters into their applications
and Web pages. These characters can speak, via a text-to-speech
engine or recorded audio, and even accept spoken voice
commands. Microsoft Agent empowers developers to extend
the user interface beyond the conventional mouse and
keyboard interactions prevalent today.
Enhancing applications and Web pages with a visible
interactive personality will both broaden and humanize
the interaction between users and their computers.
There are a limitless number of roles and functions
that developers can create for these personalities to
- A welcome host could greet new users and provide
a guided tour the first time a computer is turned
on, an application is run, or a Web site is
- A friendly tutor could lead someone through a
task or a decision tree with instructions step-by-step
along the way.
- A messenger could deliver a notification or alert
that a new e-mail has arrived and then offer to
read it to you.
- An assistant could perform tasks for you like
looking up information on the Internet and then
reading it out loud.
To see a demo of Microsoft Agent Technology click the
View Demo button.