Hello, my name is Kate Kelly; I am a Program Manager in the Office Global Experience Platform (GXP). In Office 2010, GXP focused on features designed for customers working in multiple languages, such as updating Language Preferences and adding translation tools to Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote.
In Office 2010, one of our new features is an on-the-fly translation feature called Mini Translator . The Mini Translator allows you to translate single words or many paragraphs simply by hovering over the text that you want to translate. Mini Translator also includes the ability to Speak that text using Microsoft’s Text-to-Speech (TTS) engine.
We have also enabled Speak for the Quick Access Toolbar and the Customize Ribbon Options. Customers who rely on TTS can add the Speak button to either of these and have quick access to Speak at any time (via the mouse or a keyboard shortcut).
One of the key pieces of feedback we received from customers was that you wanted more languages for Speak. We teamed up with the Microsoft Speech Technologies team to make this possible. With the RTM version of Office 2010, expected sometime in June, you will be able to download and use the Speech Platform and additional TTS engines from the Microsoft Download Center.
Speak will recognize the language of the text you select and checks if you have that Text-to-Speech language, either from a built-in Windows TTS engine, 3rd party engine, or a TTS engine from the Download Center.
For example, I have the English TTS engine installed, but not the Chinese TTS engine. When I hover over the Chinese text, the Speak button is not available; however when I hover over the English text the Speak button is enabled.
In addition to the improved user experience for international users, we believe that the Speak feature is a great investment that reinforces Office’s commitment to accessibility as well. You can learn more about other accessibility investments we made in Office 2010 in Larry’s great post.
And you can learn more about how to use Speak in the “Using the Speak feature with Multilingual TTS” article on Office.com.
Note about duplicate TTS languages: if you have a 3rd party TTS engine already installed on your computer, Speak will use that TTS engine rather than the Microsoft TTS engines you can install from the Download Center. For example, if I have a German TTS engine from a 3rd party product and I also install the German Microsoft TTS engine from the Download Center, the 3rd party TTS engine will always be used. If I uninstall the 3rd party TTS engine, Speak will start using the TTS engine from the Download Center. This way, by downloading new TTS engines from the Download Center you will always be able to ensure maximum readability, while not sacrificing interoperability with built-in or 3rd party engines.
We hope you’re as excited about this new feature as we are – use the comments to let us know what you think and how you might use this feature for your work.
Kate Kelly, Program Manager, Microsoft Office