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Speech Added to Office Communications Server

Microsoft announced this week at the SpeechTEK 2006 conference in New York that it will integrate the full capabilities of its Speech Server 2007 into Office Communications Server 2007.

The move is part of the company's unified communications plans, which it originally announced last winter.

At the show, Microsoft also showed off Windows Speech Recognition technology, which will be incorporated into Windows Vista and will support user interactions in eight languages: U.S. English, U.K. English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Japanese, German, French and Spanish.

Using the technology, Vista will let users control their computers using their voices, as well as dictate documents and e-mail messages in mainstream applications, fill out forms on the Web, and command applications and the operating system, the company said.

Office Communications Server 2007 is "a real-time communications hub, enabling people to connect to colleagues and information quickly and easily within familiar applications, devices and network," according to Microsoft statements.

"Adding Speech Server to Office Communications Server will give our customers the tools to provide seamless access to applications and information from any device, anytime, anywhere," Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Unified Communications Group, said in a statement.

One demonstration used an intelligent agent to help a caller locate and contact someone based on previously defined preferred methods, such as e-mail or instant messaging. Another showed an instant messaging conversation taking place with one person speaking and the other typing.

"The integrated APIs will create an opportunity to not only expand existing applications, but also build new unified communications scenarios," Gupta said, emphasizing the opportunity for Microsoft's partners.

Current Speech Server customers will be fully supported by Microsoft until 2014, and Speech Server 2004 R2 will remain on the Microsoft price list until the end of 2007, the company said. Communications Server 2007 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 2007, the company said earlier this summer.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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