Microsoft Power Automate Gets Boost with Softomotive Acquisition

Microsoft has acquired Softomotive, a 15-year-old robotics process automation company, in a bid to enhance its own Microsoft Power Automate product.

Softomotive provides business process automation solutions to "more than 9,000 global customers," Microsoft said in its announcement Tuesday. Softomotive has two main products, per its Web site description, for both attended use and unattended use.

Softomotive's WinAutomation solution is an attended-mode, serverless desktop product for recording keystrokes and screen actions. ProcessRobot is an unattended-mode, server-based, enterprise-grade product, with added security measures and the ability to leverage artificial intelligence.

Microsoft plans to add Softomotive's solutions to Microsoft Power Automate (formerly "Microsoft Flow"), a low-code/no-code business process automation tool that's part of the Microsoft Power Platform suite. WinAutomation is already included and currently available for free for subscribers to Microsoft's own robotics process automation solution, called "UI Flows." 

Here's how the Tuesday announcement expressed that idea:

Starting today, all existing Power Automate customers can immediately benefit from WinAutomation to automate legacy tasks in the cloud or on their desktops. This is available at no additional cost to customers with an RPA attended license in Power Automate.

UI Flows is a subscription add-on option for Power Automate users. Last month, UI Flows reached the "general availability" commercial-release stage, so it hasn't been on the market long.

With the acquisition, UI Flows will largely stick around, but it will mostly be used for unattended-mode operations, according to the view of Craig Le Clair, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst, in a Tuesday blog post. Le Clair explained that Power Automate is a cloud-based solution, which meant that UI Flows required having a persistent Internet connection to run, which perhaps was a competitive limitation. In contrast, WinAutomation will just run on a desktop.

Microsoft also will get an improved bot design with the Softomotive acquisition, plus better application controls, Le Clair contended. He viewed the acquisition positively, but suggested that Microsoft will still fall a bit short in its digital worker and text analytics offerings. Le Clair, in addition to being a Forrester analyst, wrote a book on how artificial intelligence and automation will restructure workforces.

Microsoft did offer a few other notions on how the Softomotive acquisition will enhance Power Automate. For instance, it's adding Softomotive's connectors for "SAP, legacy terminal screens, Java, Citrix, and more" applications. The acquisition will enable workflow automations to be executed "in parallel and on the same machine," Microsoft noted.

By joining Microsoft, Softomotive's solutions will get more automation options, scalability, access to artificial intelligence and analytics solutions, and greater agility, noted Marios Stavropoulos, Softomotive's co-founder and CEO, in an announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.