Microsoft on June 20 released Dictate, a new voice input add-in for Office that works with the Windows versions of Outlook, Word and PowerPoint.

Of course, dictation software is hardly new. In fact, both Microsoft and Apple include basic dictation functionality in their respective desktop operating systems, not to mention popular offerings like Nuance's popular line of Dragon speech recognition software.

Dictate, Microsoft's take on the category, is notable for a couple of reasons.
First, it hails from Microsoft Garage, the company's experimental app unit. Secondly, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technologies found in the company's Cognitive Services slate and Cortana virtual assistant to turn spoken words into on-screen text.

"The plugin enables transcribing voice in more than 20 languages and also supports real-time text translation of up to 60 languages. Spoken commands give users the ability to create new lines, delete, add punctuation and more to format the text," stated Microsoft in a June 20 announcement.

Before its release to the public, the software garnered somewhat of a following within the halls of Microsoft, added the software maker. "Initially built as a prototype during an annual Microsoft hackathon, the project quickly grew its fan base with more than 1,500 employees in more than 40 countries."

In a YouTube video from Microsoft, the add-in can be seen converting spoken text, including a famous and exceptionally convoluted word, into text for a Word document, PowerPoint slide and the body of an Outlook email. It also supports a number of punctuation and editing commands, including "new line" and "delete."
Note: the Dictate add-in download is for 32-bit Office.

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