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Nadella Previews Skype Translation Technology for Windows

Speaking at Code Conference on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he is more interested in fostering organic growth for Microsoft, rather than big acquisitions.

Organized by the operators of the new Re/code Web site, this week's Code Conference featured several CEO speakers including Nadella, such as Google's Sergey Brin, Intel's Brian Krzanich, Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff and Netflix's Reed Hastings.

When asked what companies Nadella would like Microsoft to buy, he said his focus is on building new platforms and software for productivity.

"I think we have to build something big," Nadella said. "If along the way we have to buy things, that's fine. But we have to build something big. We've built three big things, three-and-a-half if [we] add Xbox into it. It's time for us to build the next big thing."

Nadella, joined by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Pall, previewed one such major effort: the new Skype Translator, which aims to provide real-time language translation. Pall, who leads the Lync and Skype organization, showed how the Skype Translator can enable him to have a conversation with a colleague who only speaks German. The demonstration showed near-real-time voice translation from English to German and vice versa.

"It's brain-like in the sense of its capabilities," Nadella said. "It's going to make sure you can communicate to anybody without language barriers."

In a blog post Tuesday, Pall said the Skype Translator is the result of decades of work and joint development by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. Pall said it combines Skype and instant messaging technology with Microsoft Translator and neural network-based speech recognition.

"We've invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they're emerging as important components in this more personal computing era," Pall wrote, adding that Microsoft will make Skype Translator available as a beta app for Windows 8 by year's end.

Microsoft also released this post on the research initiative.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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