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Speech Server 2007 Enters Beta Test

Microsoft said this week that it's shipping the first beta test version of Speech Server 2007 on schedule, and plans to release the final code this fall.

Speech Server 2004 heralded Microsoft's entry into the interactive voice response system marketplace two years ago. The 2007-branded version will be the third release of the system.

The new Speech Server 2007 will feature support for VoiceXML, an established W3C standard that Microsoft had avoided supporting until now in favor of Speech Application Language Tags (SALT). The new version will support both.

"With the newly included VoiceXML support, customers will be able to write World Wide Web Consortium's VoiceXML 2.1-compliant applications within Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and deploy those applications, or existing VoiceXML 2.1-compliant applications, on Speech Server 2007," says a Microsoft statement.

Speech Server 2007 also features a .NET Framework-based application programming interface (API) that will provide low-level access to core speech server functions, letting customers build speech-enabled application using various languages, including JavaScript and C#

The update will also feature a Dialog Workflow Designer that is based on the Windows Workflow Foundation. Its aim is to provide a drag-and-drop tool for designing applications and call flows. The designer produces a .NET assembly that is expressed as a Visio-style diagram. Because it is based on the Workflow Foundation, the Dialog Workflow Designer can initiate other workflows including business rules, back-end operations or Web services calls.

Microsoft released the last update almost exactly a year ago, when it shipped Speech Server 2004 R2 (Release 2).

The key new features added in Speech Server 2004 R2 were support for all-in-one server configurations and support for U.S. Spanish and Canadian French speakers at no extra cost in the original version designed for U.S. English speakers. It also offered VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) support from industry partners.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.