Thanks for the intro, Vikram! I'm the new marketing communications manager for the Machine Translation team in MSR, and I'm really excited to be a part of the team! I'm looking forward to sharing some of the great new improvements to the service that the team is working on, as well as hearing comments from the readers of this blog.
A little background on me: I'm a former techie who's been in the marketing world for the past 4 years (specifically working with Microsoft's OEM partners). Before that I was in grad school for Computer Science at the University of Florida. I'm happy to be working closely with developers again, especially on such a cool product.
As Vikram mentioned, I'm going to start blogging more regularly on behalf of the team. Expect monthly posts, as well as one-off posts as new things come up that I want to share with you.
We have a lot of catching up to do in terms of features that have gone live in the past few months, so expect a busy week of blogging! Looking forward to hearing from all of you!
I wanted to post a quick note welcoming Lane, who will be bringing you updates (more regularly than before) about what’s new and exciting in our team. Welcome Lane!
On that note, Lane and Andrea were at the MSR Silicon Valley Road Show event showing off our products and technology. Robert Scoble from Fastcompany has a video:
While still on the topic of videos – some of you might have missed news coverage from CNET News a little while back. We are covered in the last one and half minutes of this video.
Our friends over in the Internet Explorer building recently released a developer preview version of IE8.
There are a lot of interesting features in IE8 developer beta 1, ranging from improved standards compatibility to improving security through elegant tweaks to the address bar. Web slices, improved Favorites bar and the developer toolbar are some other welcome additions to the feature set.
The Activities feature in IE8 is a great way for users to access various web services in a single click. We are very excited to deliver translations through the Translation activity for IE8. If you don't already have it available through the activities menu you can get it (along with other great activities) from here.
For a detailed review on the Translation activity, and to hear it in "non product manager speak", you can check out Helvecio's blog post here. You can download the developer preview IE8 from here. More information on newer releases and other features is available at the IE team blog.
We look forward to hearing about your experiences with the Translation activity for IE8.
Did you know that MSN messenger recently became* is the number one instant messenger in the world? Last summer, thanks to the efforts of Helvecio on our team, the MTBot prototype project quietly launched – to provide a glimpse to the community of 28.6 million unique messenger users what might be possible when you combine machine translation technology with instant messaging.
The MTBot prototype project was released in May 2007 with the main goal to try to understand how useful machine translation would be in IM conversations. The bot acts as a human translator, participating in conferences and translating messages as they are sent by all parties.
A typical usage scenario would be something like this: let's assume you have a friend in Japan that does not speak English... Well, you would add MTBotemail@example.com to your Live messenger buddy list, wait until the bot accepts your request (by switching status to Online) and then you would start your conversation by sending the "Hello" message... The Bot is going to wake up, and display a list of languages - enter "ja" for Japanese. Once it gets a valid connection the Bot will tell you to invite your friend to join the conversation. That's it... From this point on, everything you type will be translated from English to Japanese, and everything your friend types will be translated from Japanese to English.
Another typical use is as portable translator: using Messenger from any Smartphone a user can translate simple sentences when traveling to other countries.
As with any prototype effort, do keep in mind that this is experimental and there is a possibility the bot might be offline from time to time. The usual caveats about the quality of machine translation also apply.
We always appreciate your feedback and suggestions – so feel free to do so on this thread.
* Update: The link pointing to the data on Messenger becoming the most used IM client is from around when (2003-04) it first claimed that crown. Messenger has continued that trend since then. (Thanks to our keen eyed readers for catching that one!)
Now available: The Windows Live Toolbar Translator Button!
So many people said: I wish I had a simple button to translate a web page when I need it! Imagine: you browse for the latest digital camera information and before you know it, you end up on a Japanese web page and you don’t understand what it says. Did you bookmark the URL to a web page translator? Wouldn’t it be convenient to just get an English translation of this Japanese site with a simple mouse click?
If it happened to you before that your browsing experience crossed over to a specific language, your Windows Live Toolbar button will remember the last language you needed a translation for. E.g. if it was from Japanese to English, a simple click on your button will now give you an English translation in our unique bilingual view along-side the Japanese original site. If you are, however, not in need of a Japanese-->English translation, but landed on a – say - French site, you can easily adjust the language selection in the bilingual viewer’s language drop down box. Or: you can expand the little downward arrow next to the toolbar button: and choose which language selection you would like to see applied when the button is clicked:
With this toolbar button, web page translations are literally only a mouse click away. It doesn’t get much easier than that!! Try it out.
Cheers - Andrea (Your friendly neighborhood Translator PM :-))