Microsoft Invites Developers to Test Web-Site Translator

Microsoft Research this week released a Web application that can automatically translate Web sites into other languages.

By Elizabeth Montalbano
Fri, March 20, 2009

IDG News Service — Microsoft Research this week released a Web application that can automatically translate Web sites into other languages.

The Microsoft Research Machine Translator is based on a new API Microsoft released this week, the Microsoft Translator AJAX API, and can translate a Web site into 12 languages, according to a posting on Microsoft's Via Windows Live blog. The Microsoft Translator AJAX API allows people to integrate translation functionality into Web applications and sites.

Microsoft gave attendees at its MIX09 conference this week an invitiation to try out the new widget, and is accepting registrations from people who want to receive invitations to test the technology. People can see how it works on a sample Web site online.

Web-site builders can insert the tool -- which appears as a small widget bar on a Web page -- easily into a site with just a few lines of code, according to Microsoft. It does not redirect a Web site to another page for the translation, but does the translation automatically right on the page.

Currently, the translator has the ability to translate a Web site into Arabic, Chinese (Simplified & Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Microsoft is working on adding new languages as well, it said.

Microsoft said its goal with the widget is to provide "useful" translations rather than exact human translations, at least for the time being.

"While the technology is improving month to month, it will still take a long time before it can match human translation quality," the company said on the blog post. "We don't recommend using machine translation for sensitive or highly critical information."

Microsoft also posted links to information about the quality of the translation and how Microsoft performs machine translation.

Microsoft is letting Web-site developers that have access to the technology insert the tool into any Web site, commercial or noncommercial, for free.

Microsoft plans to release the tool to more people in the coming months, it said, but did not specify to how many or when it would make it more widely available. The company also hopes to use feedback from testers to improve the "fit and finish" of the widget as well as add new features to it.

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