Microsoft Speech Technologies Announce Updates to Beta Server and Development Kit

REDMOND, WA - Microsoft Corp. has announced new features and functionalities in the most recent beta versions of Microsoft® Speech Server and the Microsoft Speech Application Software Development Kit (SASDK). Our goal is to make speech technology more cost-effective and accessible to a broader range of enterprise customers," said Xuedong Huang, general manager of the Speech Technologies group at Microsoft. "After more than 10 years of research and a wealth of beta tester feedback, Microsoft and our industry partners are ready to turn speech - the most natural form of interaction - into a mainstream technology that provides significant business value to enterprise customers." Since the launch of Microsoft Speech Server beta 1 in July 2003, more than 500 enterprises have enrolled in the Microsoft Speech Server beta program, and more than 50 partners have joined the Speech Partner Program. In addition, Microsoft recently unveiled its Speech Technologies Joint Development Program (JDP) customers and partners, which have been working closely with Microsoft over the past year. Participating JDP customers include GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp., Grange Insurance Group, Jet Blue Airways, Mary Kay Inc. and the New York City Department of Education; participating partners include Intel Corp., Intervoice Inc., Maxxar Corp., ScanSoft Inc., TALX Corp. and Tata Consultancy Services. "Previously, companies weren't willing to invest in speech technology because it was so expensive and proprietary," said Ryan Plant, software architect for JetBlue Airways. "But with Microsoft's advent into the speech industry it is providing the necessary impetus to boost speech development and interest." Based on beta customer and partner feedback, Microsoft has incorporated the following new features and functionalities into Speech Server beta 2: Deployment and management of speech-enabled applications through a Microsoft Management Console Speech Server snap-in; Support for multiple applications; Server manageability and scalability; Updated Microsoft-developed Automatic Speech Recognition and prompt engines; support for ScanSoft Inc.'s Speechify Text-to-Speech Engine 3.0. These new features have been added in SASDK beta 4: Programmatic access to the active QA control, which is designed to provide developers with control and flexibility; Comprehensive command and exception history, enabling developers to implement exception-handling rules; Complete access to all the data of computer supported telecommunications applications; A new command line tool for editing prompt databases; Speech add-in 1.0 for Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer; The Speech Debugging Console; and Banking Alerts reference application. The final version of Microsoft Speech Server is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2004. Pricing and packaging will be announced at a later date.
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