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  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Microsoft Translator Introduces Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi for UNESCO's International Mother Language Day


    In our ongoing effort to empower language communities to preserve their languages and cultures, we are excited to introduce Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi to Microsoft Translator’s ever-growing list of supported languages. These language systems were developed in collaboration with community partners in Mexico, who created the automatic translations systems to permanently bridge the translation gap between these endangered languages and the rest of the world. The systems themselves were built using the Microsoft Translator Hub, a Translator product which is available for free to allow any group to create its own unique translation systems.

    Photo courtesy of Instituto Querestano de la Cultura y las Artes

    Using the Hub, our community partners took important steps to preserve their language and culture. The Yucatec Maya translation system was built by the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQROO), a university in the southwestern Mexican state of Quintana Roo that was created to provide higher education to the Maya population of the region. Native to the Yucatan region of Mexico and Belize, Yucatec Maya is spoken by fewer than 800,000 people, with less than 59,000 monolingual speakers. The language is descended from the language of the ancient Mayan empire, which is well-known for its art, architecture, as well as its expertise in astronomy.

    The Querétaro Otomi language system was created by the Instituto Queretano de la Cultura y las Artes (IQCA), an institute in western central Mexico whose mission is to encourage artistic and cultural development and to promote equity and equality of opportunity within the State of Querétaro. Querétaro Otomi is an endangered language from the region that is only spoken by 33,000 people and has fewer than 2,000 monolingual speakers.

    The release of Maya and Otomi helps to celebrate the UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, an annual international event which aims “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.” According to UNESCO, “if nothing is done, half of 6,000-plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century.” Maya and Otomi are indigenous languages from Mexico which are both currently threatened. Although they are still in use, the number of speakers is decreasing and younger people are not speaking them as actively as their elders. The new automatic translation systems will help the Maya and Otomi people safeguard their language and culture for generations to come.

    Over the years, Translator has worked closely with a variety of language community partners to encourage language preservation and, through it, intercultural communication. In the past, these community partners have used the Hub to create translation systems for languages such as Hmong Daw, Welsh, and Urdu.

    The Hub allows organizations such as UIMQROO and IQCA to leverage the computing power of Microsoft Translator’s machine-learning back end as well as its existing translation models to create unique and customized translation systems. The Translator Hub is a powerful tool for organizations that have specific translation needs, such as language preservation. It also allows organizations to create domain-specific systems, including industry-specific translation systems (for instance, for the medical or financial sectors) and business-specific systems that are customized to the company’s internal style and terminology.

    In addition to the Hub, Translator also supports a wide variety of products to connect individuals across language barriers, including the Translator API, which can be used to translate web pages and apps in real time into 45+ languages, as well as powering the translation features in the Microsoft Office suite of products. Most recently, Microsoft Translator and Skype introduced Skype Translator, a next–generation speech-to-speech translation platform which allows users to converse in different languages in near-real time.

    To learn more about International Mother Language Day, and what Microsoft is doing to support technology on this front, please visit the Official Microsoft Blog.

    Learn More about the Translator Hub and Language Preservation:

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    New Auto-refill Feature in Windows Azure Marketplace


    An easy way to subscribe to the Translator API is through the Windows Azure Marketplace , as evidenced by the thousands of developers subscribing to the service through the marketplace. The team just added an often asked for feature - Auto-refill. This feature addresses a key request from many Translator API customers who wanted to (a) more tightly control their monthly pre-committed subscription level and (b) not run out of volume in case the usage exceeds the forecast level.

    Here is what the marketplace team has to say about the new feature: 

    The Auto-refill option can be enabled on any paid subscription, giving more options to subscribers of the Microsoft Translator API ensure effective use of their subscription volumes. Auto-refill provides the ability to ensure that you, or anyone using your subscription, do not reach your usage limit before the end of your subscription period, and thus avoid the resultant loss of service. Auto-refill does this by cancelling your current Translator subscription and creating a new subscription before you reach your usage limit. All this happens seamlessly, without interrupting the service.

    How Does it Work?

    You subscription gives you a certain allotment of transactions, users, characters or other discrete limits (characters - for translator). Once you enable Auto-refill on a particular subscription, Windows Azure Marketplace monitors your character balance for the current subscription period. If your balance reaches 10% or less of your subscription limit, and you have not used up your maximum number of Auto-refills in the past 30 days (or have chosen unlimited Auto-refills), Windows Azure Marketplace re-subscribes you to, and charges you the then-effective subscription rate for, a new subscription, thereby giving you  new subscription period and new character balance. In addition, any characters remaining immediately before Auto-refill occurred are carried over to your new subscription so that you don’t lose anything you already paid for.

    Who Can Benefit From Auto-refill?

    Scenario 1 - Manage Anticipated Spikes in Volume

    If you are running a promotional campaign for your application you might see higher than expected traffic during the promotion. If you don't know what your target reach may be and want to ensure no interruption in service, you could select the "Unlimited" refill option during the course of the promotion. This will ensure that any unanticipated spikes are supported. In the month following the promotion, you can then modify your subscription and auto-refill needs accordingly. 

    Scenario 2 - Manage Your Costs

    The cyclical nature of projects may require higher or lower volumes in given months. Some months your usage may require only 4M characters and in others your usage may increase to 32M characters. With the auto-refill feature you can set your monthly volume to 4M with an auto-refill option of 8 refills.By leveraging the auto-refill feature, you are able to better manage your subscription to your lowest anticipated volumes / costs and then increase your volumes as needed. Allowing you to minimize time spent monitoring your usage and save costs over a larger subscription every month.   

    Step-by-Step to Enable Auto-Refill for Microsoft Translator

    Step 1: Select “Enable Auto Refill”


    Step 2: Enter the Number of refills, agree to the terms and conditions, and click “Submit”


    Step 3: Return to summary where uou should now see your available refills and option to “Edit Auto Refill”


    Click here to learn more about the Auto-refill feature and here to learn more about other release features for Windows Azure Marketplace.


  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Skype Translator Preview Releasing Support for Two New Languages and Updated Client Application


    Today, we are releasing updates to Skype Translator Preview including two new languages, Chinese and Italian. The updated app also has new features to help make speech to speech translation even easier such as continuous speech recognition and automatic volume control.

    Here is a full list of updates to the new and improved Skype Translator Preview:

    • Two new languages: Chinese Mandarin and Italian
      Skype Translator now speaks Chinese and Italian, in addition to Spanish and English.

    • Text to speech translation
      Hear the instant messages of your partner, translated or not. This is especially useful in noisy places where you can't talk.

    • Continuous recognition
      See the recognized text as you are speaking. No need to wait for a pause anymore.

    • Automatic volume control
      Your partner can speak while the translation is still going on. You will hear the translation at full volume, and your partner at a lower volume, so that you can still follow the translation. This helps to create a more fluent and dynamic conversation.

    • Mute option for translated voice
      If you would rather just read the transcript, and use Skype Translator as a real-time subtitling tool, there is now an option to easily turn the translated audio on or off, depending on your preference.

    • Deep Neural Networks in translation
      The technique of applying deep neural networks to speech recognition has drastically improved the recognition quality. We have applied this technique to translation as well.

    Read more about these updates on the Skype blog, and be sure to sign up at try out the new features yourself at

    To learn more about the work the Microsoft Research Asia team did behind the scenes to help support Chinese in this release, check out this video.

    Learn More about Skype Translator:

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Welcome to the Machine Translation team blog!


    Welcome to our blog! We are very excited to bring to you news and insights into work (and fun) at the Machine Translation (MT) Group within Microsoft Research. Hello World! We have great mix of researchers, developers, testers, program managers, linguists, designers and product managers working on MT here, and we are pleased to launch this blog as a way to connect with customers, partners and other friends of MT. We hope this will provide greater insight into the work we do and who we are, and we are very excited to be talking to you.

    Machine Translation (MT), to those that don’t know it, is exactly as it sounds: using a “machine” (in most cases computer software) to translate text from one human language to another. There have been many different approaches developed in this area and results have been improving over time. You will hear from members of the team that have been working on this technology and hear about how the research breakthroughs are coming to a desktop near you. We will be introducing you to the team building the new Microsoft Translator and you will get some background on the technology used for the site.

    RSS and Atom feeds are available for all posts or specific categories on this blog. For now anonymous blog comments are under moderation – I am hopeful that as long as spam levels remain low we can keep it that way.

    Once again, thank you for visiting the blog! Cheers!

    - Vikram

    Vikram Dendi works at Microsoft Research as Senior Product Manager for the Machine Translation (MSR-MT) group.
  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Building Windows 8 Store Apps Using Microsoft Translator


    The Microsoft Translator API is a hosted API that allows you to add machine translation to your app. It fully supports Windows Store Apps, so if you want to add localization to these apps, doing so is as easy as subscribing to and using the API. We’ve built out step-by-step instructions and assets that demonstrates how to do this this, showing a C#/XAML based app, built for the Windows 8 Store, which uses the MVVM design pattern.

    Getting Started Guides and Assets:

    Build a Twitter App with Translations

    Want to know what people are saying about the latest product release or global news event across the world in 40+ languages? The Twitter app allows you to search for tweets that match a search term, and when those tweets are in a non-English language, it will translate them for you directly over the top of the existing text. We’ve also made the full code for the application available for you to download. The links above with provide you with the walkthroughs and assets to get started. 

    View of Twitter App with Translations:


    Close-up of one of the tweets, showing the translation:


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