Microsoft Releases New Features, Enhancements to .NET Speech SDK; Announces Technical Preview of .NET Speech Platform And Joint Development Program

NEW YORK, Oct. 30, 2002 — Today at the eighth annual SpeechTEK International Exposition and Educational Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced a series of developments related to its .NET Speech family of products, putting the company a step closer to its goal of making speech technology mainstream in the enterprise and providing a solution that makes it faster, easier and more economical for enterprises to build and deploy speech-enabled applications. Microsoft announced the availability of the beta 2 release of the Microsoft .NET Speech Software Development Kit (SDK), as well as a technical preview of the Microsoft .NET Speech platform and a newly established Joint Development Program (JDP). This builds on previously announced strategic alliances with SpeechWorks, Intervoice Inc. and Intel Corp. that will offer customers solutions and leading hardware and software components that integrate with the Microsoft .NET Speech platform.

The beta 2 of the Microsoft .NET Speech SDK includes a complete tool set for the creation and testing of Speech Application Language Tags (SALT)-based voice-only telephony applications. It also supports the development of multimodal speech applications on clients such as desktop PCs or Tablet PCs using Internet Explorer browser software. The .NET Speech SDK 1.0 beta 2 offers new enhancements to grammar and prompt creation and editing tools, and debugging tools for both telephony and multimodal applications. New features, such as World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards-compatible formats for grammar authoring, a prebuilt library of reusable speech telephony and application controls, and grammar libraries, will provide Web and speech developers with the tools they need to build and test robust speech applications that will soon be viable for enterprise deployments.

Microsoft today also announced a Joint Development Program (JDP) for enterprise customers and partners committed to building and deploying applications built with the .NET Speech SDK on the Microsoft .NET Speech platform. The JDP, an integral part of the customer-centric product development process at Microsoft, will help provide real-world production-environment-level testing by some of the most demanding Microsoft customers and enterprise partners. These enterprise customers and partners will work closely with Microsoft to help ensure platform quality, reliability and scalability, and will deploy speech-enabled applications on the Microsoft platform. The technical preview of the .NET Speech platform, currently available only to JDP participants, will provide JDP participants with an early opportunity to work with the software and hardware components, resulting in competitive advantage for large-scale speech application deployments in the enterprise.

“The rapid progress being made today in the development and deployment of open standards-based, flexible, scalable and economical speech technologies will establish the foundation for mainstream availability of speech technology across a broad range of industries,” said Kai-Fu Lee, corporate vice president of the Natural Interactive Services Division at Microsoft. “Microsofts SALT-based technologies, which are designed to easily extend Web server infrastructure and tools to enable speech access via the telephone, PC, Pocket PC and eventually a wide range of devices, offer a compelling and cost-effective solution that will enable enterprises to create new business opportunities and enjoy the greatest return on investment.”

Microsoft .NET Speech SDK

The Microsoft .NET Speech SDK is the industrys first Web developer tool and the first speech toolkit to integrate with a Web server programming environment, Microsoft ASP.NET. The Microsoft .NET Speech SDK 1.0 beta 2 is based on the SALT 1.0 specification submitted to the W3C in August 2002. The SDK seamlessly integrates into the Visual Studio .NET development environment, making it faster, easier and more economical for Web developers to incorporate speech functionality into Web applications and create new business opportunities by leveraging their existing Web development knowledge and skills.

The .NET Speech SDK will help developers create speech-enabled Web applications that will translate into a host of new business benefits and opportunities. With SALT-based speech technology integrated into existing or new Web investments, enterprises will be able to do the following:

  • Reduce the cost of building and deploying speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) systems by employing standard Web techniques

  • Extend telephony applications by building and maintaining a common Web infrastructure for GUI-only access, speech combined with GUI access and telephone-only access

  • Leverage existing Web infrastructure and investments to expand service offerings and generate new business opportunities

  • Augment their customer base by allowing anyone with a telephone, PC or mobile device to access Web-based information and services

  • Improve employee productivity and customer satisfaction

Microsoft .NET Speech Platform

The Microsoft .NET Speech platform is a SALT-based telephony and multimodal-enabled solution for developing Web-based speech applications that will span multiple clients such as PCs, telephones, wireless connected Pocket PCs and next-generation laptop computers such as the Tablet PC. Incorporating telephony and speech recognition technologies, the Microsoft platform represents a superior infrastructure for building, deploying and operating speech-enabled Web applications and services. A broader beta release of the Microsoft .NET Speech platform is slated to be released midyear 2003.

Among its many features, the Microsoft platform will offer world-class speech recognition functionality developed by Microsoft and support both traditional telephones and multimodal devices. For telephony applications, the platform will contain SALT interpreter 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 smart clients such as the Tablet PC and Pocket PC, and potentially a wide range of other clients such as GUI cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). 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 Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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.

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