Microsoft today announced that it's opening signups for an early preview of Skype Translator, a real-time language translation feature that it first showed off earlier this year at Re/code's Code Conference.
While the initial trial program will be limited to customers who own a Windows 8.1 computer or tablet, Microsoft is open to bringing Skype Translator to other platforms in the future.
The preview program will be free and will initially be available for Windows 8.1 computers and tablets only, and will kick-off with a limited selection of languages. That said, as part of the sign-up process, you'll have the chance to tell us which languages are important to you, what platforms you'd like to see added, and how you plan to use Skype Translator once it becomes available. We look forward to this feedback, as it will help enhance future releases.
In a May demo of the Skype translation tool, a Skype employee conducted a conversation with a German-speaking colleague, with Skype providing real-time translation from German to English and vice versa. While the translation software did not perform perfectly, audience members at the time said its translation capabilities were "pretty good."
Microsoft also demoed the feature at its Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, showing off somewhat more polished translation capabilities. According to Microsoft, Skype Translator continually improves as it translates text back and forth from one language to another.
As with the demo, the early preview version of Skype Translator only works with a small number of languages, but Microsoft has plans to continually add additional languages to the app as development progresses.
Microsoft has previously said that after Skype Translator is beta tested on the Windows platform, it will be brought to Mac users.