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!
Today Microsoft celebrates International Translation Day. Promoted by the International Federation of Translators since 1953, the goal of International Translation Day has been to celebrate the worldwide translation community that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalization.
Real-time communication and collaboration technologies from video conferencing to social media have removed the physical barriers of communication and today translation technology is paving the way for removing the barrier of language in the same way. The Translator team within Microsoft Research is committed to helping to enable business, communities, and consumers to be able to communicate and collaborate regardless of language through technology innovation.
In conjunction with International Translation Day we are excited to announce the Translator app in the Office Store available for download later today. The app allows users to take the existing translation features available in Word to the next level. Enhancing built-in features of being able to select text and instantly translate it, users can now leverage the customization capabilities of Translator with the new app. Expanded functionality within the app allows users to utilize Collaborative Translation Framework (CTF) to rate and edit translations. In addition, organizations can utilize the custom translation systems they have built with the Microsoft Translator Hub within office.
Today, we are also releasing new updates to the Bing Translator app for Windows Phone 8 that launched last year. Updates include camera translation support and offline line language packs for Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, and Swedish, camera support for Danish, use of Windows Phone LED light as a lamp in camera mode for low light translations, and the ability to remove history items one at a time. These new updates continue to empower consumers to use the app in their desired form from camera, type, or voice both on-the-go and offline.
In addition, over the last year the Translator team has launched a number of other tools and technologies. Earlier this year in partnership with Bing, we launched the Bing Translator app for Windows allowing users to leverage the unique features of Windows 8 from the Share Charm to Snap Mode to translate within their Windows 8 apps. Recently, the team also launched the next generation with the hugely popular Bing Translator Widget that allows webmasters to easily integrate real time translation into their website to reach a larger global audience, enable CTF, and support customized translation systems using the Hub. Like the Widget, the launch of the Translator control gave developers easy access to robust, cloud-based, automatic translation between more than 40 languages within their apps.
And certainly we cannot overlook the launch of the first intergalactic supported language with the release of Klingon garnering significant buzz across the blogosphere.
The explosive growth of social media and translation features from Microsoft in Facebook, Twitter, and Yammer have allowed users to develop new relationships creating more dynamic and vibrant communities. Users are no longer limited to communication with others in their preferred language, but through the power of real-time machine translation can communicate with anyone around the world regardless of language.
Taking the growth of communication one step further, earlier this year Microsoft Research unveiled a glimpse of what translation may look like in the future. During the 14th annual Computing in the 21st Century Conference, attendees saw a glimpse of where these technologies are taking us and were very excited by the prospect. During the keynote, Rick Rashid delivered his address in English that was instantly translated and delivered to the audience in Chinese. The excitement exploded across the web in response to this demonstration indicating how much everyone wants to experience the future translation has to offer.
It is no secret that the proliferation of digital content on the web, mobile devices, and desktop applications is creating an increasing demand by users to communication and collaborate in multiple languages. We are excited that the continued integration of machine translation features and functionality is enabling users to do just that and are motivated by the challenge of future innovations to come.
To learn more about how the Translator team in partnership with other Microsoft organizations is delivery translation to users worldwide, be sure to check out the other International Translation Day posts from Microsoft Next, Microsoft Research, Bing, Windows and Windows Phone, along with many others. Happy translating!
Simplified Chinese and Spanish General Domain engines complete
Last time I blogged about launching the English to Spanish language pair using our own Microsoft technology - our team has made great progress since then. We've completed the Spanish bidirectional pair with Spanish to English, and launching Simplified Chinese both to and from English. We're going to keep adding languages in the coming months as one of our top priorities, so keep an eye out on this blog for the languages you're most interested in. Let us know in the comments which languages you're looking for!
Coming soon: Windows Live Messenger TBot & Office Integration!
Today, the Multilingual App Toolkit (MAT) team announced the release of MAT 3.1. The Multilingual App Toolkit integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio to provide Windows Store apps and Windows Phone apps with translation support powered, translation file management, and editor tools powered by Microsoft Translator.
This release provides several key fixes as well as new and improved features including:
The MAT team really focused on key features as well as addressing both reported and non-reported issues in this release. A huge congratulations to the MAT team and their great work delivering this latest release!
Please note that due to updates to the setup process, you will need to perform a one-time uninstall of MAT v3.0 or earlier before installing v3.1.
Get Started Using MAT Today
The following is a guest post by the Microsoft Translator Partner, Lionbridge Technologies, who developed GeoFluent as solution to address the challenge of real-time translation of user generated content leveraging the Microsoft Translator automatic translation service and customization capabilities of the Translator Hub.
It’s the middle of the night in China, and you are still at the office, working on a complex installation that needs to be up and running by the time the boss comes in the next day. There is no room for error, and the pressure is on.
All of the sudden, a server malfunctions, and you realize your big project has stalled, and progress has come to a halt. What do you do?
Your first lifeline is the vendor’s “Contact Us” button on their website. A chat window opens up immediately with customer support on the other end. An agent works through the issue with you online, and suddenly the project is back underway. You breathe a deep sigh of relief.
What you don’t know is that the customer support agent only speaks English and was seamlessly interacting with you, even though your native language is Chinese. The communication was so seamless you weren’t even aware that a language gap existed. Somehow, it just worked. What you did know, however, is that, had immediate assistance from customer support not been available, you would likely be looking for a new vendor for future business.
The lesson learned is simple. Today’s business demands that companies of all types need to be able to respond and support their global customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That means that customer service personnel must be able to provide that support to customers regardless of their native language and time zone.
The challenge with that type of customer service and support is that neither native speakers or human translation are viable solution, both from a cost, response-time and scalability standpoint. Can machine translation solve this problem effectively?
As experts in translation and localization services, we at Lionbridge understood that while automatic translation provided the immediacy necessary to keep up with the translation demands of user-generated content, business clients demanded more. Translations had to at least be actionable and understandable even if they weren’t perfect.
The list of challenges that needed to be addressed to make automatic translation valid for these customer support scenarios were numerous. Some of the biggest hurdles included:
For this reason, we developed GeoFluent, a real-time automated translation solution designed to meet the needs of business clients in a scalable and cost effective manner. Building on Microsoft Translator as the underlying automatic translation service, GeoFluent provides an additional configuration layer that enables real-time conversations and content sharing with users who speak, read and write different languages. It is easily integrated into customer’s existingchat and community applications.
We took these above mentioned challenges into account when developing GeoFluent. This SaaS-based application delivers the features that businesses require, including:
A successful machine translation experience must be seamless, actionable, and timely. GeoFluent makes this makes this possible for the demanding needs of customer service organizations to support a global customer base.
To learn more about how GeoFluent solutions are leveraging Microsoft Translator, go to:
GeoFluent Partner Page
By Greg Belkin
Director, Product Marketing