Microsoft Talks Up .Net Speech

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-05-13

Microsoft Corp. last week announced the beta of its .Net Speech SDK, a Web developer tool based on the Speech Application Language Tags, or SALT, specification.

The Redmond, Wash., company is planning a .Net Speech platform for building and deploying telephony and multimodal applications. The server technology will be an extension of its .Net server platform, said John Mastan, group product manager for Microsofts .Net Speech Technologies Group.

"That back-end platform will consist of a Microsoft telephony server component, a new Microsoft-developed speech recognition engine and the Speechify text-to-speech engine we are licensing from SpeechWorks [International Inc.]," Mastan said.

"While the actual ... configuration and how this will be put together still [has] to be determined, we will be providing customers with these three components in some way so they can be deployed," he said.

Microsoft is looking to have a beta of the platform ready later this year, with the final product expected to ship sometime next year, Mastan said.

The .Net Speech SDK (Software Development Kit) 1.0 beta, released at the AVIOS Speech Expo in San Jose, Calif., is a set of SALT-based speech application development tools and speech controls that integrate with Visual Studio .Net.

Microsoft officials said it is the first tool kit to integrate with the companys ASP .Net Web server environment and will allow developers to write speech and visual Web applications in a single code base.

The SDK beta, available from Microsofts Web site, includes tools for creating and debugging grammar and prompts. The set of SALT-based ASP .Net controls will let developers add speech capabilities to their HTML and Extensible HTML Web applications.

While the .Net Speech SDK comes with speech extensions for Microsofts Internet Explorer browser software, Microsoft will provide an add-on for the Pocket Internet Explorer sometime before the final version of the SDK ships in the next 12 months, Mastan said.

The SALT specification is an open, platform-independent standard based on existing Web standards. It will be submitted to a standards body this summer, Mastan said.

Some 19 new contributors to the SALT Forum were announced last week, Mastan said. Founding members include Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Microsoft and Philips Speech Processing.

The newest participants in the 43-member forum include the Association of Electronic Technology for Automobile Traffic and Driving of Japan, Brooktrout Technology Inc., Digital GlobalSoft Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., InfoSpace Inc., IP Unity Inc., One Voice Technologies Inc., Orange Imagineering, SandCherry Networks Inc., Satyam Computer Services Ltd., SVox AG, TranXactive, Unisys Corp., V-Enable and Incand West Corp.

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