When is a preview no longer a preview?
When everybody has access, but don’t tell Microsoft that. The company is making Skype Translator Preview available to everyone running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Preview, but keeping the “Preview” name intact.
Five months after Microsoft introduced the real-time translation-ready version of its popular video, voice and chat communication tool, it removed the sign-up requirement and is letting anyone download the app from the Windows Store.
Skype Translator Preview is the company’s first foray into real-time translation services.
In December, we used it to conduct a lively conversation with a Spanish-speaking linguistics expert in Seville, Spain. At the time, I was impressed with Skype Translator Preview’s ability to deliver translated English audio to her and spoken Spanish translation to me instantly. It was clear that the system was not only interpreting each word, it was understanding the context.
In December, Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, told me the system does try to make sense of the words, “It’s not good enough to just get all the words you’re saying, [you] have to understand a little bit about the words,” he said.
Since that first trial run, Microsoft has added Italian and Chinese (Mandarin) voice translation services. It can also do text-only translation for 50 languages.
Along with the wider release of Skype Translator Preview, Microsoft posted a video highlighting the app’s impact on the New York City-based nonprofit Pro Mujer and its work with women in Latin America.
No word yet on when “preview” will be dropped or if it will ever support Windows 7.