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Microsoft's New Voice Recognition Software Suffers Public Glitch

Microsoft Corp. was hoping new voice-recognition software would impress an auditorium full of financial analysts, but a glitch turned the demonstration into a bit of an embarrassment.

Microsoft Corp. was hoping new voice-recognition software would impress an auditorium full of financial analysts, but a glitch turned the demonstration into a bit of an embarrassment.

The trouble began when Shanen Boettcher, a member of the team working on the new version of the Windows operating system, gave his first voice command.

Instead of typing, "Dear mom," as Boettcher had instructed, the computer spurted out: "Dear aunt."

After the first round of chuckles, Boettcher said "Fix aunt," but "let's set" appeared on the screen.

"Delete that," he said -- three times -- to no avail before suggesting that an echo in the room was foiling the presentation.

The loudest laughs came after he told the computer to "select all," which prompted it to finish the sentence it had started with the words: "so double the killer delete select all."

Matt Rosoff, an analyst with the firm Directions on Microsoft, said he didn't make much of the stumble during last week's demonstration of Vista, the delayed update to Windows. He doesn't see speech recognition as a feature that will drive many people to upgrade to Vista.

"I think they took a risk by demo-ing that on stage," he said. "Voice recognition is historically fraught with danger. It's really difficult to get right."

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