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Microsoft releases universal real-time translator for Skype

Skype’s tool, which is now available for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview users, translates Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish in spoken word, and more than 50 languages in text, including Klingon.

Microsoft Skype translator app

Microsoft has taken its Skype Translator Preview out of closed beta and has made it available to anyone running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview, no sign-up needed. The announcement was posted on the Microsoft Skype blog last week.

At this point, the translator only supports Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish in spoken word. For plain-text instant messaging, however, it supports more than 50 languages, including Klingon. Somehow, I suspect that one may get used more than the human languages.

Now, while it's tempting to make Star Trek comparisons, Skype Translator does not automatically recognize spoken languages on the fly. You have to select the language ahead of time. You'll notice this in the interface. Translator looks almost exactly the same as the standard Metro UI Skype app except for the Translation slider button that appears under the name of each contact when you are in a conversation view.

When using Translator, Microsoft recommends using a headset with a microphone instead of a stand-alone mic. Having experimented with Translator, I can vouch for this. I tried using it with the Microsoft LifeCam, which has a built-in microphone, and it just didn't work. You need to use the headset.

This is one more and probably the last nail in the coffin of AOL Instant Messenger. I cannot recall the last conversation I had on AIM. Development has ceased, and I don't expect Verizon to revive it once it completes the AOL acquisition. The future belongs to Skype and WhatsApp.

Skype Translator is available on the Windows Store.

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