Skype Translator rolling out to Windows Desktops

Microsoft has announced its Skype Translator is now available to all Windows users and supports 50 messaging languages and six voice languages.

The feature was first announced a year ago and has been in preview testing until now, only just becoming available as an integrated part the desktop version of the VoIP app for Windows - including Windows 7, Windows 8 and, of course, Windows 10.

English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish voice languages will all be supported and Microsoft has also revealed 50 languages can be used with its messaging feature.

"It has been a long-time dream at Skype to break down language barriers and bring everyone across the globe closer together," explains Microsoft's Skype team. "Researchers, engineers, and many others across Microsoft have been working hard to make this dream a reality and we are looking forward to bringing this preview technology to more devices."

Skype Translator uses machine learning that improves as more people use it. Although previewers helped to some extent, opening up will provide more opportunity for development.

"Already, early users of the preview have helped it improve tremendously, and now with this broader release we are excited to see the additional progress we can make from expanded use," the company commented.

Previously, testers were required to sign up and wait to be admitted to the scheme before being able to directly translate speech to and from English, Chinese (Mandarin), Italian and Spanish.

Skype's product marketing manager, Yasmin Khan, said in a blog post back in June that a greater number of users would improve the translating technology.

"We are thrilled with the positive response from around the world, and especially thankful to ALL of the early adopters who downloaded the application, and use it every day," she wrote.

"Remember: Skype Translator uses machine learning, so the more people use the technology, the better the experience for everyone!"

Currently, the Skype Translator preview can translate between English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin, as well as 50 written languages in its instant messaging function.

More users means the machine learning behind the app can improve its understanding of phrases and accents to become more accurate.

Microsoft said it will add more languages to the app as they meet its quality standard.

Microsoft launched Skype Translator last December and, initially, only a select number of people were able to use it. Khan highlighted one of the early adopter testers in a blog post, praising non-profit development organisation Pro Mujer based in New York. The company provides women in Latin America with financial, health, and human development services and is using Skype Translator to communicate with them.

"We are very proud of Pro Mujer's mission, and we're delighted they're finding value in using Skype generally, and Skype Translator to make an impact in so many people's lives," Khan said.

Head to our sister site Alphr for a review of Skype Translator preview.

This article was originally published on the 26/11/14 and has been updated multiple times (most recently on 02/10/15).

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.