Microsoft and SpeechWorks Form Strategic Alliance To Bring Speech Technology to Millions of Web Developers

Kai-Fu Lee, Vice President of the Natural Interactive Services Division, Microsoft and Stuart R. Patterson, CEO, SpeechWorks. Click on photo for high resolution image

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Feb. 4, 2002 — Today at the Telephony Voice User Interface conference, Microsoft Corp. and SpeechWorks International Inc., the global leader in speech recognition and text-to-speech (TTS) technologies and services, announced a strategic alliance aimed at fostering widespread use of speech technologies in the development of enterprise applications. The alliance will make industry-leading speech platform technologies from SpeechWorks and Microsoft available to millions of developers, making it faster and easier for them to build speech-enabled Web applications and services for enterprise customers. The technologies to be developed will be based on the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification, which enables users to access these applications via the telephone and multimodal devices such as cellular phones, wireless PDAs and emerging new technologies such as the Tablet PC.

“The strategic alliance is a welcome commitment to move SALT forward,”
said Bill Meisel, president of TMA Associates, a speech industry consulting firm.
“It accelerates the availability of an integrated multimodal solution. Web-oriented developers who don’t consider themselves speech experts will be particularly motivated to look into speech interfaces as an important extension of their skills.”

Under the terms of the agreement, SpeechWorks will become a designated ISV and marketing and professional services partner for the upcoming Microsoft® .NET speech platform. In addition to Microsoft’s internally developed speech technologies that will ship standard with the platform, SpeechWorks will configure its speech technologies to support the SALT specification and integrate with the Microsoft speech platform. The alliance also will give developers access to a number of SpeechWorks technologies, including SpeechWorks’ Speechify™
TTS engine. Speechify produces high-quality, natural-sounding speech in multiple voices, in a variety of languages. Microsoft licensed Speechify in April 2001 and now has extended that license to the new speech platform.

SpeechWorks also will add support for the latest version of the Microsoft Speech Application Programming Interface, SAPI 5.1, to its OpenSpeech Recognizer™ and Speechify engines and will initially port eight OpenSpeech DialogModules™
to be compliant with the Microsoft platform, including OpenSpeech DialogModules for managing dates, times,
digit strings, phone numbers, alpha numeric strings, item lists and custom contexts. OpenSpeech DialogModules are reusable software building blocks that assist developers in rapidly delivering a consistent and proven user interface for high-quality speech-enabled applications. The companies also will work together to promote the Microsoft .NET speech platform for building and deploying telephony and multimodal applications, and design and deliver education and training programs for developers building speech applications on the new platform.

“Microsoft chose to enter into a strategic alliance with SpeechWorks based on its market-leading speech technologies and its expertise in deploying high-quality speech solutions around the world,”
said Kai-Fu Lee, vice president of the Natural Interactive Services Division at Microsoft.
“The Microsoft .NET speech platform, combined with the performance benefits of SpeechWorks technologies, will further our goal of bringing speech into the mainstream, and revolutionize the way developers and enterprises build and deploy Web-based speech applications.”

“SpeechWorks’ technologies and leadership position in the speech arena combined with Microsoft’s leading software platform technologies, development tools and vast pool of developers are a winning combination for the speech industry,”
said Stuart R. Patterson, president and CEO of SpeechWorks.
“We are particularly excited about the multimodal capabilities the SpeechWorks and Microsoft alliance will bring to developers worldwide.”

Microsoft Platform for Speech Applications

The Microsoft .NET speech platform is a SALT-based multimodal and telephony-enabled solution for developing Web-based speech applications that will span multiple clients such as PCs, telephones, wireless personal digital assistants (PDAs) and next-generation laptop computers such as the Tablet PC. The platform is a central component of the company’s comprehensive SALT-based product offerings that will expand and facilitate speech-enabled Web applications for the broad market. Incorporating both telephony and speech recognition technologies, the Microsoft platform represents a superior infrastructure for building, deploying and operating speech-enabled Web applications and services.

Among its many features, the Microsoft platform will offer world-class speech recognition functionality and support both telephone and multimodal devices. For telephony applications, the platform will contain SALT-based voice browser software that will support speech-only access through normal telephones and cellular phones. To enable multimodal access and effectively provide both speech and visual input and output, a SALT-based speech interpreter may be added to clients such as GUI cellular phones, PDAs, and smart clients such as the Tablet PC and Pocket PC. The platform also will offer third-party vendors the ability to add existing speech recognition and text-to-speech engines and provide scalable, reliable and secure core speech processing services. Speech-enabled Web applications running on the platform may be developed using extensions to Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET, consisting of SALT-enabled ASP.NET controls for speech programming as well as sophisticated grammar and prompt editing tools for speech application creation.

About the SALT Forum

SpeechWorks and Microsoft are founding members of the SALT Forum, along with Cisco Systems Inc., Comverse Inc., Intel Corp. and Philips Speech Processing. SALT is an open, platform-independent standard that is based on existing Web standards. The SALT Forum ( ) intends to submit SALT specifications to formal standards bodies by midyear.

About SpeechWorks

Through the power of SpeechWorks technologies, the human voice is all a person needs to access instant information and conduct transactions from any phone or device. Around the world, customer service innovators such as Amtrak, CIBC Bank, Microsoft and OnStar are realizing returns on SpeechWorks applications that consistently delight and serve customers 24 hours a day. With over 100 partners, SpeechWorks (Nasdaq
) delivers natural-language speech recognition, speaker verification and text-to-speech (TTS) solutions to leading corporations, telecommunications providers, device manufacturers and government organizations worldwide. A description of SpeechWorks’ products, services and unique

customer programs such as SpeechWorks Here™
S.T.E.P. (Speech Technology Evaluation Process) is available by calling (617) 428-4444 or visiting .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Visual Studio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

SpeechWorks, OpenSpeech Recognizer, OpenSpeech DialogModules, Speechify and SpeechWorks Here are trademarks or registered trademarks of SpeechWorks International Inc. in the United States and other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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