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No, it’s not an April Fool. It’s an April (caffeine) Fix! You may soon be able to order your favorite Starbucks drink directly through your email interface — as long as you’re using Outlook, that is.
Microsoft announced on Thursday at its annual Build conference in San Francisco that it is developing an email tool that will allow users to schedule meetings at a Starbucks location and order coffee ahead of time.
“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with our customers outside our stores,” said Starbucks CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger at Thursday’s presentation. “Our work with Office is opening up new opportunities for us to connect with our customers and save them time when they want to combine coffee with meetings.”
In the same way that Facebook Messenger is ramping up its third-party offerings — integrating tools to hail a Lyft, send money, or check in for a flight — it would appear that Microsoft is also looking to steer people to one particular platform for all their needs.
However, unlike Facebook — which is concentrating on the business-to-consumer model — Microsoft is banking on artificial intelligence to do the work.
"Ultimately, it's not going to be about man versus machines. It is going to be about man with machines," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told conference attendees on Wednesday.
The company unveiled a few other tricks at the three-day event, including plans for an embedded Skype app that would allow businesses to conduct web meetings from their browser or mobile device, and the integration of its Cortana virtual concierge into Outlook and Calendar to do anything from take your pizza order to plan your vacation.
The Starbucks-on-demand feature has no launch date as of yet, but will undoubtedly prove useful for early morning team meetings, or weekend wind-downs with a friend. And for those awkward moments when you don’t want to meet up with a friend, you can let them down gently by using one of the tool’s other features — send them a Starbucks gift card.
Now if only there was an app that ordered a round of martinis.