Microsoft has launched an early preview of its translation service for Skype that allows users to have conversations in different languages using real-time translation.
Originally demonstrated in May, Skype Translator can translate speech in a limited selection of languages, including Spanish and Mandarin, and can translate instant messages in 45 languages.
The service converts spoken language into a transcript which is displayed on the screen of the other user in their native tongue.
Microsoft said that it will use feedback from Skype Translator early adopters using devices running Windows 8.1 and hone the service for future updates. Those interested in taking part can register with Skype.
Writing in a Skype blog post, Microsoft's Yasmin Khan said it is hoped that Skype Translator will eventually benefit Skype's 300 million users.
"Language barriers have been a hindrance to productivity and human connection, but Skype Translator will pave the way for a more personal and more human era of computing," she added.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella explained when the translation service was initially revealed that Skype Translator can provide better results with use, effectively learning as it goes along.
"The one fascinating feature of this is something called transfer learning. What happens is you teach it English and it learns English. Then you teach it Mandarin, and it learns Mandarin, but it becomes better at English," said Nadella.
Below is a video of Skype Translator in action.
Microsoft could be making a shrewd move to differentiate its internet calling products from rival services, particularly as Google has put VoIP calls into its Hangouts app for iOS, Android and the web.
V3 contacted Microsoft for more information on its plans for Skype, but the company has yet to respond.
Microsoft recently added group video calling to Windows 8.1 devices using Skype.
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