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  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Announcing the Microsoft Translator web page widget

    • 56 Comments

    The Microsoft Translator team is very proud to announce the technology preview of an innovative offering for web page translations. Attendees to MIX09 this week get a special invitation to try out the Microsoft Translator web page widget. We are also accepting registrations, and will be sending out more invites as they become available.image

    What it is: Built on top of the Microsoft Translator AJAX API (also announced today) it is a small, customizable widget that you can place on your web page – and it helps you instantly makes the page available in multiple languages.

    Who it is for: Anyone with a web page. If you can paste a small snippet of code into your page, you will be able to display the widget to your audience. No need to know programming intricacies, or how to call a javascript API. No need to write or install server side plug-ins for your specific software. 

    What it offers: It provides a simple interface to anyone that visits the web page to select and translate content into a different language. You can see a demo on this page.

    What is cool about it:

    • Innovative: Unlike other (including our) existing solutions, it does not take the users away from the site. The translations are in-place and instant. Users can hover over the translation to see the original. image
    • Easy to Use: Adding it to your page is as easy as copy and paste. Using it on the site is as easy as select language and click the button.
    • Customizable: You can pick the colors that best blend into your site design. You can pick the size that would best fit into your design (in fact the widget has an adaptive layout that better uses real estate when very wide). image
    • Thoughtful User Experience: Progressive rendering allows for the page to get translated progressively – without having the user stare at a white space while the translation is being performed. The translation toolbar that appears when the translation is kicked off provides a progress indicator, the languages selected and a way to turn off the translation.  
    • Localized: The UI is available in multiple languages – so users that come to your page with their browser set to a different language will see the widget in their language. 

    Fun! What does it cost: It is completely free. You can put it on any site – commercial or non-commercial. You are only limited by the invite codes available at this point, but over the coming months we plan to make it more widely available.

    What we are working on:

    • More polish: We will be looking for your feedback and continue to work on the fit and finish for the widget & toolbar UI.
    • More customizability: We will be evolving the default color palette available to you through the adoption portal. We will also be looking at your feedback on the overall design.
    • New Features: There are a bunch of very cool features that we are working on that will be added soon (your widgets will inherit most of these features). These include “Automatic” translations on page load, multiple layouts/views (bringing in the well received views feature of our bi-lingual viewer offering) and some surprises that we are working on with other teams at Microsoft.

    Other questions:

    I can’t get it to work. Where can I get support or provide feedback?

    I would like to highlight that this is a technology preview release – so please do test it on your site before presenting to your users. The Microsoft Translator forums are now live. Feel free to head over and interact with other users. You will also find members of our team there who can help.

    Can this save me the cost of doing human translation on my professional website?

    Our goal (and that of most machine translation systems available today) is to provide what we call “useful” translations. While the technology is improving month to month, it will still take a long time before it can match human translation quality. We don’t recommend using machine translation for sensitive or highly critical information. You can learn more about translation quality here and here. You can learn more about how we do machine translation here.

    How many languages do you support? When can you add support for <insert language here>?

    Currently we support the following languages.

    · Arabic

    · Chinese (Simplified & Traditional)

    · Dutch

    · French

    · German

    · Italian

    · Japanese

    · Korean

    · Polish

    · Portuguese

    · Russian

    · Spanish

    Polish was our most recent addition. Our goal is to keep adding languages as we get enough training data to meet our minimum (“useful”) quality criteria which include both standard measurements and human evaluations.

    I am using a hosted service for my site/blog that does not let me use javascript widgets. What can I do?

    We are looking to work with providers of hosted services to make adding the widget an easy process for their users. If your provider does not offer this, please let them and us know that you would like to see the widget work with your site.

    Keep checking this post and our forums for announcements, known issues and more information. You can follow our MIX09 coverage on twitter and on Vikram’s blog.

    Last Updated: 3/18/2009, 4:15 PM

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Statistical Machine Translation - Guest Blog (Updated with additional paper)

    • 15 Comments

    Will Lewis is a program manager on the Microsoft Translator team, working on language quality and data acquisition.  Today's guest blog is a high level explanation of how the engine works:  

    As many of you know, under the hood Microsoft Translator is powered by a Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) engine.  Statistical systems are different than rule-based ones in that the “rules” mapping words and phrases from one language to another are learned by the system rather than being hand-coded.  Training an SMT requires amassing a large amount of parallel training data—hopefully of good quality and from heterogeneous sources—and training the engine on that data.  (By parallel, we mean a source of data where the content for one language is the same as the content for the other.)  The engine learns the correspondences between words and phrases in one language and those in another, which are often reinforced by repeated occurrences of the same words and phrases throughout the input.  For instance, in training the English-German system let’s say, if the engine sees the phrase All rights reserved on the English side and also notices Alle Rechte vorbehalten on the German side, it may align these two phrases, and assign some probability to this alignment.  Repeated occurrences of the source and target phrases in the training data will only reinforce this alignment.

    Generally, having parallel data for a language pair means we can train engines in both directions (i.e., both the English-German and the German-English systems can be trained on the same input sentences).  Some of you had some questions regarding why it was that we released the English-Spanish system before we released Spanish-English.  There were really two reasons.  First, English-Spanish was the first general domain language pair we released.  Releasing one language pair allowed us to test the infrastructure before we started releasing more.  Second, the technology for Spanish-English was slightly different than that used for English-Spanish, and we need some additional time to do the necessary infrastructural changes to accommodate.  In the future, we plan to release new translation systems in pairs (with a couple of exceptions).  I can’t reveal what languages we have planned next, but do expect some new ones soon!

    For those of you interested in technical discussions regarding our engines and how they work, please refer to some of the papers by the researchers who developed them.  Three recent papers of note are:

    Chris Quirk, Arul Menezes. Do we need phrases? Challenging the conventional wisdom in Statistical Machine Translation May 2006 New York, New York, USA Proceedings of HLT-NAACL 2006

    Chris Quirk, Arul Menezes. Dependency Treelet Translation: The convergence of statistical and example-based machine translation? March 2006 Machine Translation 43-65 (Attached file)

    Chris Quirk, Arul Menezes. Using Dependency Order Templates to Improve Generality in Translation July 2007 Association for Computational Linguistics

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Yammer Localization Updates Powered by Microsoft Translator

    • 1 Comments

    There are some exciting new changes happening in the world of Social Enterprise. Earlier today Yammer announced key localization updates across its web client, mobile apps, and the Yammer Success Center, that will improve communication within your organization.

    Yammer is taking localization a step further following last year’s announcement of localization support and is introducing message translation in both the iOS and Android Yammer apps, powered by Microsoft Translator®. Whenever a Yammer conversation in these apps includes a language different from the user’s default language setting, a translate button will appear below the initial post. Clicking translate will instantly convert the entire conversation, including related responses, into the user’s default language. Clicking “show original text” will revert the conversation back to the initial language(s).

      

    Check out the full announcement with all of the new features posted here and try these localizations improvements out for yourself!

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Translator app now available for Windows Phone 8

    • 24 Comments

    The free Bing Translator app for Windows Phone continues to be one of the most popular and best reviewed applications for the Windows Phone – surpassing a million downloads and garnering average ratings between 4 and 5 stars since release. Combining Augmented Reality Translation using your camera, speech & text translation, word-of-the-day live tiles and a travel optimized offline mode the app has received rave reviews and has been highlighted as one of the most innovative translation apps on any platform.

    Appstore

    For the past few weeks the team has been heads down getting the app ready and tested for the new phones running Windows Phone 8, and we are pleased to announce that owners of the new Windows Phone devices are now able to download the app from the App Store.

    You can download from the marketplace here.

    As a Windows Phone 8 user, you will also discover a new translator “lens” whenever you launch your camera – allowing you to quickly access the camera mode translation functionality of the app.

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    For those of you who are new to the app, here is a behind-the-scenes look:

    Video: New Translator App for Windows Phone Powered by Bing Available for Free Download
    Translator for Windows Phone
     

    We hope you find the app useful as you navigate an increasingly multilingual universe.

    - Vikram Dendi,
    Director of Product Management,
    Microsoft/Bing Translator

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Announcement: Haitian Creole support in Bing Translator and other Microsoft Translator powered services

    • 14 Comments

    In the current crisis in Haiti there are a number of initiatives to rapidly build software to assist in humanitarian aid. Responding to community requests for a machine translation (MT) system to translate between English and Haitian Creole, our team has been hard at work over the last few days. I am glad to announce that an experimental Haitian Creole MT system is now publicly available via several services and APIs powered by Microsoft Translator technologies. We will continue working on improving the system, but we hope meanwhile that in spite of the experimental nature – it will be of use in the relief efforts.

     IE8 Accelerator Kreyol

    1) What is being announced today?

    Responding to requests from the community involved in Haitian relief efforts, Microsoft Research is making available today an experimental machine translation system for translating to and from Haitian Creole. You can try it at http://translate.bing.com or http://www.microsofttranslator.com

    2) How is it significant?

    With the devastating disaster that struck Haiti, we have all been individually pitching in to help the efforts. This is our effort, as a team, to respond to the needs of communities such as Crisis Commons by delivering a Haitian Creole translator which can be of help to individual users, as well as other technology projects that could use a scalable translation system in their relief endeavors. Further, the usage of our API is completely free and it can be built into any application or website for immediate use. We hope that this might help the many applications being developed (such as those on crisiscommons.org) to aid the humanitarian efforts.

    3) How can I use this system?

    The Haitian Creole translator is now part of the Microsoft Translator web service enabling many of the user scenarios powered by the service. Users can access the service through the Microsoft Translator web site.  Developers would be interested in looking at our APIs – and choose from SOAP or HTTP (Support for Haitian in our AJAX API will be rolled out in the coming days).

    4) How is it different from other efforts?

    There have been some great efforts in quickly building dictionary and rule-based Haitian Creole translation tools. The statistical machine translation system behind Microsoft Translator allows for a continuous improvement in the quality of translations (by adding more training data). Also, by delivering this as part of our web service we can ensure scale and performance and open up the possibility of using our many scenarios (Bing Translator, Internet Explorer 8, Messenger Bot etc.) with Haitian Creole, as well as using our extensive API set to add such support to other software and web sites at no cost.

    5) What was involved in getting this out of the door in record time?

    The process involved identifying parallel (translated) data between English and Haitian Creole, and training the MT engine to create the requisite language models. We would also like to acknowledge the great work being done the Crisis Commons folks, the dictionary builders at haitisurf.com, the folks at CMU that made available parallel data and the Microsoft volunteers who challenged our team to action.

    6) What should I expect in terms of quality?

    This is an experimental system put together in record time. While our typical approach to adding new languages involves significantly larger amounts of training, a higher threshold for quality testing – we decided that the upside warranted making the system available to the community at the earliest, and continue improving it subsequently. We are working diligently to keep improving the quality, but bear with us if you encounter problems. You can always contact us at mtcont@microsoft.com with feedback. Our user and developer forums are also available to discuss any issues you encounter.

    7) How can I help improve the system?

    The best way you can help improve the system is by helping us find more training data. This is typically sentences or words translated between English and Haitian Creole. We intend to make available to the larger community (via tausdata.org) data that we collect (as license restrictions permit) for training purposes. If you know of dictionaries, translated sentences, or websites that have such translations we urge you to contribute it to TDA’s TAUS data sharing initiative. TDA is a non-profit organization providing a neutral and secure platform for sharing language data. If you have any concerns or questions feel free to contact us at mtcont@microsoft.com.

    8) How can I help the broader Haiti relief efforts?

    Go here to learn more about how you can help those devastated by the earthquake.

    9) Where can I get more information?

    Please stay tuned to our blog for further announcements. You can learn more about Microsoft Translator and the services we offer here.

    10) What can we expect next?

    In the coming days expect to see support for Haitian Creole added to even more of our scenarios (Translation Bot, Translator widget, Office etc) as well as the AJAX API. Known issues and announcements can also be found on our forums.

    We hope that this contribution proves useful to the various humanitarian efforts underway, and please stay tuned to this blog for further news on the Haitian Creole language support. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at mtcont@microsoft.com.

    Update (2:53 PM PST): The Messenger Translation Bot can now speak Haitian Creole. Add mtbot@hotmail.com to your messenger buddy list. Try the group conversation feature with a Kreyol speaker!

    -Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator

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