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From Social Interfaces To Secret Agents
-- by Jim Forbes

It's no secret that Microsoft has many secret projects in the works. One of them is a genie, and the company may soon be ready to let it out of its bottle. Combining social interface and agent technologies, the product could be one of Microsoft's major initiatives in making computers easier to use.

Microsoft is enhancing its agent technology with speech recognition, voice synthesis and new animation. For example, the speech-recognition component of Microsoft's agent program can store up to 1,000 "phrases." Each phrase is a combination of words that are unique to an application. Perhaps as early as mid-1998, Microsoft plans to link these components to a natural-language processor. That could lead to a new class of computers that allows users to run personal productivity applications, connect to the Internet or intranets, and send and receive e-mail via voice commands.

Microsoft may soon be ready to launch a major test of the voice-recognition and speech-synthesis features. The plan is for the voice recognition tool to float around the screen and launch when you open Windows.

Windows Magazine, May 1997, page 44.

Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.