Microsoft announced this morning that it is launching the first phase of its long-awaited Skype Translator Preview, which will provide automatic, real-time language translation capabilities to the popular communications software. This first release is available only on Windows 8.1, and supports spoken English and Spanish, plus over 40 instant message languages.
"The first phase of the Skype Translator preview program will kick-off with English and Spanish as the first two languages," Microsoft's Chris Wendt writes in a new post to the Skype Garage & Updates blog. "Skype Translator is the result of decades of research in speech recognition, automated translation, and general machine learning technologies, combined with an intense focus on the user experience. This next phase in the Skype Translator journey is an exciting milestone and we're looking forward to sharing it with those who use Windows 8.1."
Before you can use the Skype Translator Preview, you will need to sign up for the Spanish language via the Skype Translator sign-up page, Microsoft notes. You can also use this page to specify which languages you wish to use with Skype Translator. Microsoft will use this information to determine which languages to support first.
According to Microsoft, Skype Translator uses cloud-based machine learning capabilities, and will improve with the usage that occurs over the course of the preview.
Here's a cool video showing schoolchildren from Mexico and the United States holding a live online game.