Skype Translator is now available as a preview for Windows 8.1 users after Microsoft started to slowly roll out the service that translates instant messages into one of 45 different languages.
A blog post from the Skype Team explained that users can sign up to register interest in the service and the feedback from these early users will then be used to fine tune the final product.
The new service, which was first detailed back in May, turns the spoken word into a written transcript that can be read in the recipient’s native tongue and the company hopes that it helps to bolster connections between its 300 million users.
“Skype is breaking down communications barriers by delivering voice and video across a number of devices,” said Yasmin Khan from Microsoft. “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. Stay tuned! We’ll have more to share in the weeks to come.”
Windows 8.1 tablets and computers will be the first to benefit from the preview with a limited number of languages available and those that sign up are able to indicate a preference for certain languages that are important to them.
When it was first announced at the end of May the company explained that it has been in development for a number of years at its Redmond base and combines Skype voice and IM tech with Microsoft Translator and neural network driven speech recognition.
Even though the initial preview programme is free to anyone that signs up, it’s unclear if Microsoft will eventually charge for Skype Translator when it gets its full roll out.
Skype Translator’s preview comes just a few weeks after it released its Snapchat-esque Skype Qik app that allows users to send short video messages to individuals and groups from their iPhone or Android smartphone.