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Microsoft Expands Agreement With SpeechWorks

Microsoft Corp. is leaning more heavily on its ISV partner SpeechWorks International Inc. as Microsoft works to create the speech hooks that will encourage developers to use Microsoft's platforms for speech-enabled applications.

Microsoft and SpeechWorks this week announced an alliance around speech technologies. The alliance spans software development, marketing and professional services. It builds on Microsoft's April 2001 agreement to license SpeechWorks' Speechify text-to-speech engine.

Microsoft is currently working on a set of speech offerings including a .NET Speech Software Development Kit, a speech application server and add-ons to Internet Explorer. Microsoft is basing its speech-related work on the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specifications.

Redmond expects the strongest initial customer interest in speech-based applications to come from the travel and tourism, financial services and insurance industries. The technology has horizontal appeal to companies with mobile sales forces, as well.

Technology aspects of the agreement with SpeechWorks call for the Boston-based company to add support for the Microsoft Speech API 5.1 to its OpenSpeech Recognizer and Speechify engines. SpeechWorks will also port eight of its OpenSpeech DialogModules -- software building blocks to help developers create speech applications more quickly -- to Microsoft's platform.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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