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Microsoft Brings Speech to Web Services

You can't say there's nothing to talk about when it comes to Microsoft .NET.

Looking to bring speech-enablement technology to the developer community, Microsoft yesterday announced the release of the beta version of its .NET Speech Software Development Kit.

The .NET Speech SDK, which is the first developer tool based on the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification, is designed to integrate with the Visual Studio .NET development environment and allow Web developers to more easily add speech functionality to applications.

The .NET Speech SDK, which is scheduled to ship this week, will allow developers to write combined speech and visual Web applications in a single code base. It also includes a set of SALT-based ASP.NET controls.

The SALT specification — currently under development by the SALT Forum and slated to be released to an international standards body by the middle of the year — defines a set of extensions to Web markup languages, such as HTML, XHTML and XML.

The SALT Forum describes the specification as a royalty-free, platform-independent standard that will make possible multimodal and telephony-enabled access to information, applications and Web services from PCs, telephones, tablet PCs and PDAs. Multimodal access will allow users to input data using speech, a keyboard, keypad, mouse and/or stylus, and produce data as synthesized speech, audio, plain text, motion video or graphics.

"Microsoft's commitment to the SALT specification and to making speech a mainstream technology is evidenced by its deployment of the .NET Speech SDK, the first developer tool based on the SALT specification," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer at SpeechWorks International Inc., a SALT Forum founder. The .NET Speech SDK will provide "the software necessary for authoring speech-enabled Web applications that will be accessible to millions of developers," Chambers said.

In addition to Microsoft and SpeechWorks, other founding members of the SALT Forum are Intel, Cicso, Philips and Comverse.

"Microsoft is committed to bringing speech into the mainstream by making it a more accessible, easier-to-implement technology," said Eric Rudder, senior vice president of Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft.


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