Adoption of Microsoft Speech Technologies Gains Momentum With Leading Enterprises and Partners

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 2, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new features and functionalities in the most recent beta versions of Microsoft® Speech Server and the Microsoft Speech Application Software Development Kit (SASDK). Together, the products constitute a comprehensive speech platform for companies interested in developing, testing, deploying and managing Web-based speech-enabled telephony and multimodal applications. These speech applications can improve employee productivity, increase customer satisfaction, create new revenue opportunities, and reduce costs by consolidating Web and call-center infrastructures.

“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 leading enterprises have enrolled in the Microsoft Speech Server beta program, and more than 50 partners have joined the Speech Partner Program. These partners are working with Microsoft to bring speech to the mainstream by developing packaged speech applications and services to the broad enterprise market.

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 to ensure optimal platform quality, reliability and scalability for deploying speech-enabled applications with Microsoft speech technologies. 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. But with Microsoft’s advent into the speech industry it is providing the necessary impetus to boost speech development and interest,” said Ryan Plant, software architect for JetBlue Airways.

“Microsoft and industry partner Tata Consultancy Services are helping to provide our company with the tools and technology to operate in a much more productive and responsive manner with our customers,” said Ralph Carlile, vice president and CIO for Grange Insurance Group. “The vision for speech recognition technology at Grange Insurance Group includes providing a rapid, customer-convenient channel for accessing specific information or performing business transactions by voice.”

Microsoft Speech Server New Features and Functionalities

Designed to run on the Windows Server™ 2003 operating system, Microsoft Speech Server is the newest member of the Windows Server System™
family of products. The Microsoft Speech Server is the most flexible and integrated platform for delivering low total cost of ownership for speech deployments. Speech Server is a Speech Application Language Tags (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 the Tablet PC. Based on beta customer and partner feedback, Microsoft has incorporated the following new features and functionalities into Speech Server beta 2 to build a truly robust and comprehensive speech platform:

  • Easier deployment and management of speech-enabled applications through a Microsoft Management Console Speech Server snap-in

  • Support for multiple applications

  • Enhanced server manageability, performance and scalability

  • Updated Microsoft-developed, enterprise-grade Automatic Speech Recognition and prompt engines

  • Support for ScanSoft Inc.’s Speechify Text-to-Speech Engine 3.0

Microsoft Speech Application SDK Advancements

The Microsoft SASDK is a set of tools and ASP.NET controls based on the SALT specification that enables developers to build both telephony and multimodal applications. Both Web and speech/IVR developers can incorporate speech functionality into Web applications quickly and easily, and can learn the concepts necessary to build a speech application with the familiar Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET 2003 development environment. These new features have been added in SASDK beta 4:

  • Simplified programmatic access to the active QA control, which provides developers with greater control and flexibility

  • Comprehensive command and exception history, enabling developers to more easily implement complex exception-handling rules

  • Complete access to all the data of computer supported telecommunications applications

  • A new command line tool for editing prompt databases, making it easy to apply recurring or short-notice changes in a production environment

  • Speech add-in 1.0 for Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer, which now supports network detection, enabling developers to control application response to changes in network status

  • The Speech Debugging Console, which lets developers debug Pocket PC speech-enabled application code

  • Banking Alerts reference application, which allows developers to integrate with Microsoft SQL Server™
    Notification Services for generating notifications and includes an updated voice user interface

Product Availability

Additional information about Microsoft Speech Server and the Speech Application SDK is available at . 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. More information on the Microsoft Speech Partner Program and how to become a Microsoft Speech Partner can be found online at . Those interested in learning more about Microsoft’s JDP participants and how they are using Speech Server and SASDK can visit Microsoft Speech Technologies Virtual Press Kit .

About Windows Server System

Microsoft Windows Server System is an integrated and interoperable server infrastructure that reduces IT complexity to enable IT professionals to deliver innovative solutions that meet the changing needs of business. With Windows Server 2003 at the foundation, Windows Server System is engineered from the ground up for XML Web services based on Microsoft .NET

technologies to connect information, people, systems and devices. Based on a common software architecture that spans all facets of IT from design, development and deployment through ongoing management and usage, Windows Server System provides comprehensive IT infrastructure for operations (security, systems management, networked storage), applications (data management and analysis, e-business), and information work (messaging, communications and collaboration). More information on Microsoft Windows Server System can be found at .

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.

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