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Marshall Harrison - "the gotspeech guy"

Site news, Speech Server insight and assorted ramblings
Speech Server to ship as part of Office Communications Server 2007

Rich Bray (Microsoft General Manager in Unified Communications) announced this morning in his keynote address at SpeechTek that Microsoft Speech Server 2007 will ship as part of Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS).

I can hear some of you groaning that this means that the Speech Server 2007 release date will slip but that is just a "glass is half empty" view. True this means another Beta release and a new shipping date of summer 2007.

But, I think this is really big and I am ecstatic over the possibilities that this opens up for speech developers. This means that we will be able to play in the Office arena and that our speech applications will become more mainstream. This opens up endless opportunities to seamlessly blend office communications into one large package.

OCS will provide us a bigger audience. It will give us the ability to do IM, have presence awareness; speech enable audio and video conferencing and better voice and call management.  I'm really stoked about the communications possibilities that this will open up.

Imagine, you are on the phone and your wife calls you. Instead of getting a busy signal or plain old voice mail the call gets directed to your Instant Messenger. Now she can IM you by speaking over the phone. IM says that you are busy then the call could seamlessly get directed to your Outlook where she could dictate her message to you. Never again would you have to miss an important call but instead you have options now. How about speech enabling Live Meeting and Exchange? Possible?  I think it will be. Ah, the power of SIP.

Since MSS 2007 will ship in the box with OCS 2007 as a separate install, some of you are wondering what this will do for licensing and the cost of implementing speech. While the licensing details haven't been fully worked I've been told that the overall costs should go down. This is exciting too as it will open up possibilities for smaller businesses that may have limited funds to invest in speech automation.

I have a good friend named Andrew Connell who is a Microsoft MVP for CMS. He has been extolling the virtues of SharePoint Services 2007 to me. He so wrapped up in that and such an evangelist for SPS that he is dragging me into it and I'm starting to believe in what he is doing. He has got me wondering how I could make speech apps work with SPS and now it looks like it may become a possibility. The telephone is the most widely used interface in the world and we have all been communicating verbally since we were mere babies. I can't emphasize enough how exciting I find this.

This is the information that I've garnered from my talks with the Speech Server team and I hope I haven't given you any false impressions or misrepresented anything here. The Speech Server Team is all excited about this and so am I. In fact, I'm almost drooling over the possibilities that this opens up for us.

I'm just trying to give you guys and gals a taste for what is to come. As for how this affects the current Beta or TAP programs, more specific information will be forthcoming from the Speech Server Team concerning that. Please don't email me for details as I am not at liberty to discuss it.

Posted: Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:50 AM by marshallharrison

Comments

You Talkin' to Me said:

POSTED BY: KEN CIRCEO, MSS Lead Tech Writer
Today from the SpeechTEK 2006 conference in New York, Microsoft...
# August 8, 2006 9:31 AM

JeffForderer said:

Does this mean we have to wait a year before we can deploy VoiceXML apps on speech server?
# August 8, 2006 9:47 AM

IanRae said:

I agree that bundling MSS into OCS will open up more possibilities, but these are long-term benefits.  In the short-term this will be seen, by some, as another unforseen mid-course correction.  After the previous correction (SALT to VXML), it suggests a lack of a clear vision.

Whatever Microsoft does, I hope they don't make it harder for standard IVR speech apps, as in "you must integrate with Active Directory even though your IVR doesn't need it".
# August 8, 2006 12:55 PM

marshallharrison said:

From what I am hearing and seeing I think that standalone IVR apps aren't going away.

But it will surely be nice to have the ability to extend those apps if so desired.
# August 8, 2006 1:24 PM

marshallharrison said:

From my experience speech (or IVR) applications have been sort of reserved for larger businesses. They have also been sort of on the periphery of normal enterprise systems (i.e. desktop and web apps).

Some IVR systems are event proprietary and require their own language that doesn't "play well" with other development environments.

MSS changed that by moving speech into the .NET framework and allowing us to use the VS IDE and re-use/leverage code from the rest of the enterprise.

I think today's announcement will take us even more mainstream. We we can show that we can easily interop with MS Office components and make the interaction seem transparent to the caller (as in the scenario I
described) then IT managers and other developers will start to welcome speech as a viable and necessary component of their infrastructure.

My only concern is that when we go mainstream other developers will jump on the bandwagon. But the last thing this industry needs is a bunch of cowboys hacking away creating speech apps. There is a lot of knowledge that goes into creating a good speech app and the bad ones only hinder the acceptance of speech apps by creating bad user experiences.

# August 8, 2006 1:46 PM

IanRae said:

I think you right that this is a good move.  I've written about my mixed feelings about this announcement in the link (click on my name).

OCS is a very important product for Microsoft, and really represents where the company wants to be going.  So having speech there is good news for us speech developers.
# August 8, 2006 2:28 PM

kstep said:

When I taught the MSS SDK classes, one of the comments I made purely from a point of speculation was that in the future applications without a speech interface, will be like applications today that do not have a mouse interface. This move by Microsoft moves us a step closer to that reality. Add to that the work going into Vista with regard to speech and developers now have a compelling reason to include speech recognition in their applications. This is a very positive albeit a bit dissapointing delay for Speech Server 2007. In the end, however, we will see incredible opportunities to leverage our speech expertise.
# August 8, 2006 2:30 PM

marshallharrison said:

Hey Ian. I didn't know you had a blog. I'll have to add it to my reading list.

I was disappointed that I didn't see a GotSpeech link on our site. ;-)
# August 8, 2006 4:35 PM

IanRae said:

>I didn't see a GotSpeech link on our site. ;-)

Fixed!
# August 9, 2006 7:43 AM

aconnell said:

Cool news! FYI: SharePoint Server 2007 isn't SPS... that's SharePoint Portal Server 2003. The new version is officially known as Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) v3 which is the foundation for Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.
# August 14, 2006 6:59 AM

marshallharrison said:

Hi Andrew,

It's about time you got back from vacation and started working again.

Sorry about the mix-up but if it's any defence, I had to get Microsoft's approval for the wording of this notice (so that I didn't reveal too much detail) and they missed it too.

Lots of things around MSFT are changing names.
# August 14, 2006 7:21 AM

Working the Spoken Word said:

Now that the dust has settled on the announcement to integrate speech services into Office Communications...
# August 18, 2006 6:40 PM

Chuck.Net said:

Hi Marshall,

In reference to the following quote from above:

“Imagine, you are on the phone and your wife calls you. Instead of getting a busy signal or plain old voice mail the call gets directed to your Instant Messenger. Now she can IM you by speaking over the phone.”

When you say “she can IM you by speaking over the phone”, she will still have to speak the key words waiting in a grammar, right? Or does this mean that the new speech engine can interpret speech without the need for training the system – i.e. Speech To Text?

Wow, this would do away with my need to record comments and then store the .wav for contract-labor to transcribe.
# August 30, 2006 9:15 AM

marshallharrison said:

Chuck,

What I described is what was told me in a call from Microsoft several days before the SpeechTek announcement. MS had to approve the wording of the post before I was allowed to post it so I assume my scenario was accurate or they would have requested changes.

Rich was also supposed to demo this scenario at SpeechTek but I don't know the specifics of how it works.

# August 30, 2006 3:14 PM

Working the Spoken Word said:

Now that the dust has settled on the announcement to integrate speech services into Office Communications

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# September 26, 2007 12:08 AM

Marshall Harrison - "the gotspeech guy" said:

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# March 3, 2008 9:58 PM
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