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August 8, 2006

Microsoft's speech strategy

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 12:52 PM

Microsoft is combining its speech server with its forthcoming Office Communications Server 2007, as part of a strategy to integrate several communications technologies in one place, it said today.

Speech Server 2007, which the company said was due out by the end of this year, is designed for tasks such as operating automated phone systems at customer-service call centers. Communications Server -- a software platform for integrating voice-call management, audo and video conferences and instant messaging -- is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2007, along with a host of related products.

The company also demonstrated speech recognition features that will be part of the Windows Vista operating system at a New York City conference on speech technology.

Designed for people "who want to significantly limit the use of mouse and keyboard while maintaining or increasing their overall productivity," the features include dictation and voice control of the operating system.

Microsoft felt confident enough in the speech recognition technology -- a difficult goal the company has been investing in for at least a decade -- to demonstrate it in front of an audience of financial analysts last month, but the dictation function performed poorly.

The company chalked it up to echo in the auditorium where the demonstration was given.

Speech recognition will be available in U.S. and British English, "traditional" and "simplified" Chinese, Japanese, German, French and Spanish, Microsoft said.

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