Microsoft Agent, Beta version, October 28, 1996 


ActiveX Technology for Interactive Software Agents

http://www.microsoft.com/intdev/agent/

Microsoft Agent is a set of software services that supports the
presentation of software agents (applications that operate on the user's
behalf) as interactive personalities within the Microsoft Windows
interface. By providing support for visual personalities, Microsoft
Agent facilitates a new form of user interaction known as a
conversational interface. A conversational interface attempts to
leverage natural aspects of human dialogue and social interaction (also
known as a social user interface), and make user interfaces more
appealing and approachable for a wider variety of users. 


The conversational interface approach facilitated by the Microsoft Agent
services is not a replacement for an application's conventional
graphical user interface design; it is an extension and enhancement of
the existing interactive modalities of the Windows interface. Microsoft
Agent services are not intended as an exclusive interface any more than
a mouse is a replacement for the keyboard. Character interaction can be
blended with the conventional interface components such as windows,
menus, and controls. Therefore, Microsoft Agent services can be used to
enhance the interface of an existing application or as the exclusive
interface. 


In addition to providing character animation services, Microsoft Agent
supports input using conventional interfaces as well as speech
interfaces. Because the Microsoft Agent programming interfaces follow
the Microsoft ActiveX conventions, they are accessible to applications
written C++, Visual Basic, and Web scripting languages such as VBScript
and JavaScript. This means that character interaction can also be
programmed for HTML pages.