Monday, August 7, 2006

Microsoft Integrates Speech Capabilities into Office Communications Server

Microsoft plans to integrate speech platform services into its Office Communications Server 2007, extending its unified communications strategy to integrate instant messaging, IP telephony, voice response, audioconferencing and videoconferencing.

Microsoft announced Office Communications Server 2007 earlier this summer as a key component of the company's unified communications road map. The addition of speech capabilities gives developers the opportunity to create new communications applications or extend existing applications using an integrated set of application programming interfaces (API) and by extending existing applications for Office Communications Server 2007.

Using the new integrated APIs in Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft demonstrated how a unified communications solution can bridge communication methods such as instant messaging and phone calls through spoken commands and presence capabilities. The demonstrations included the use of an intelligent agent to help a caller locate and communicate with a person based on previously defined preferred methods, such as e-mail or instant messaging. A second demonstration showed an instant messaging conversation taking place with one person speaking and the other typing. The spoken words were translated to text and the typed words were converted to speech, creating a seamless communications experience for both parties. Other solutions demonstrated include presence-aware help desks, integrated contact center solutions, and multimodal applications that can be accessed from a variety of clients.

Microsoft also demonstrated Windows Speech Recognition, which will be available in Windows Vista in eight languages, marking the first time a Microsoft Windows operating system will include speech recognition technologies.