Microsoft Enhances Unified Communications With Speech Technology

NEW YORK — Aug. 8, 2006 — Today from the SpeechTEK 2006 conference in New York, Microsoft Corp. announced that the full capabilities of Microsoft® Speech Server 2007 will be integrated into Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, extending the company’s commitment to unified communications and breaking down today’s silos of instant messaging, Internet Protocol telephony, voice response, audioconferencing and videoconferencing. At the show Microsoft also demonstrated Windows® Speech Recognition, which will be available in Windows Vista™ in eight languages, marking the first time a Microsoft Windows operating system will include speech recognition technologies, so the user can issue commands and dictate text in applications.

Microsoft announced Office Communications Server 2007 earlier this summer as a key component of the company’s unified communications road map. Office Communications Server 2007 is a real-time communications hub, enabling people to connect to colleagues and information quickly and easily within familiar applications, devices and networks. The addition of speech capabilities gives developers the opportunity to create new and powerful communications applications or extend existing applications using an integrated set of application programming interfaces (API) and by extending existing applications for Office Communications Server 2007, enabling new revenue streams for their businesses.

“Today, the Speech Server platform is trusted by a number of major Microsoft customers to successfully answer millions of customer calls,” said Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft. “The integration of this proven, reliable technology into Office Communications Server further demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to providing our customers and partners with a truly unified communications solution and platform.”

Expanding Scenarios for Unified Communications

Using the new integrated APIs in Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft today demonstrated how a unified communications solution can bridge communication methods such as instant messaging and phone calls through spoken commands and presence capabilities. The demonstrations included the use of an intelligent agent to help a caller locate and communicate with a person based on previously defined preferred methods, such as e-mail or instant messaging. A second demonstration showed an instant messaging conversation taking place with one person speaking and the other typing. The spoken words were translated to text and the typed words were converted to speech, creating a seamless communications experience for both parties. Other solutions demonstrated include presence-aware help desks, integrated contact center solutions, and multimodal applications that can be accessed from a variety of clients.

“The addition of speech technology to Office Communications Server gives us a more extensive set of capabilities on which to build compelling unified communications solutions for our customers,” said Ruchi Prasad, vice president of Global Enterprise Marketing for Nortel. “Through our Innovative Communications Alliance, with Microsoft, we have the ability to bring new and unique capabilities to communications applications with Microsoft’s speech engine technology integrated with Nortel’s own industry-leading IVR and contact center solutions.”

Introducing Windows Speech Recognition

Also being shown this week at SpeechTEK are demos of the upcoming release of Windows Speech Recognition, which is designed for users who want to significantly limit the use of mouse and keyboard while maintaining or increasing their overall productivity. The new speech technologies in Windows Vista, which will be available in eight languages, enable users to interact with their computer by voice, and dictate documents and e-mail messages in mainstream applications, fill forms on the Web, and command applications and the operating system. Users are empowered from the beginning through a new interactive training tutorial that will familiarize them with the voice commands, while simultaneously optimizing the system for their voice. Microsoft has expanded the number of Speech Recognition languages it will ship with Windows Vista. In addition to U.S. English, Windows Vista will also support U.K. English, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Japanese, German, French and Spanish.

Continuing Support for Speech Server

With the integration of Speech Server 2007 into Communications Server 2007, current Speech Server customers will be fully supported by Microsoft until 2014, and Speech Server 2004 R2 will remain on the Microsoft price list until the end of 2007. In addition, current Speech Server customers who want to leverage these new capabilities will be able to migrate to Communications Server 2007 when it ships next year.

More information about Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/uc. Additional information about Speech Recognition in Windows Vista is available at http://www.microsoft.com/vista.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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Industry Support for Office Communications Server 2007 Speech Platform Services

Quote Sheet

August 2006

“Microsoft Speech Server has been a stable, scalable, reliable workhorse from the start for Woodforest National Bank. Today, the platform handles over a million calls a month, and adding additional capacity and applications to accommodate Woodforest’s rapid growth has always been straightforward and easy to manage. We’re looking forward to the opportunities created by the integration of Speech Server technologies into Office Communications Server, especially the expanded capabilities in the APIs and the ability to embrace IP telephony.”

David Smedley
Systems Analyst
Woodforest National Bank

“At ComputerTalk, we’ve integrated both the Speech Server and Communications Server products in our contact center infrastructure solution, ice3. We’ve found both products to be highly available, stable and robust, and their combination will give us even more capabilities to solve our customer’s contact center communications challenges.”

Dennis Menard
Chief Technology Officer
ComputerTalk

“We’re excited by the opportunities created by Microsoft’s Unified Communications strategy because now there is an easier way to make speech technology available throughout the enterprise. The integration of Speech Server capabilities into Communications Server and the use of speech technology in Exchange 2007 for unified messaging will make it possible for partners to deliver applications to everyone in a company and not be limited to just call center applications. I’m enthusiastic about the future of unified communications, and I know it will change how people communicate.”

Terry Gold
President and CEO
Gold Systems Inc.

“Telephony has been moving out of silos into mainstream IT, and speech technology has become increasingly an indispensable part of telephony. Microsoft’s Communications Server with integrated speech recognition will accelerate those trends. Companies that buy the Microsoft Communications Server — and companies that build applications using it — will automatically consider how they can make the best use of this powerful user interface.”

Bill Meisel
President
TMA Associates

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