Microsoft Translator Blog

Microsoft Translator launching Neural Network based translations for all its speech languages

Microsoft Translator is now powering all speech translation through state-of-the-art neural networks.

All speech translation apps that use this service, such as Skype Translator and the Microsoft Translator app for mobile devices, are now using neural network technology.  Furthermore, the technology is available to all developers and end-users who want to use the Microsoft Translator speech API to integrate the technology into their favorite apps and services.

In addition to the nine languages supported by the Microsoft Translator speech API, namely Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, neural networks also power Japanese and Korean text translations. These eleven languages together represent more than 80% of the translations performed daily by Microsoft Translator.

Neural network technology has been used for the last few years in many artificial intelligence scenarios, such as speech and image processing. Many of these capabilities are available through Microsoft Cognitive services. Neural networks are making in-roads into the machine translation industry, providing major advances in translation quality over the existing industry-standard Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) technology. Because of how the technology functions, neural networks better capture the context of full sentences before translating them, providing much higher quality and more human-sounding output.

Try and compare neural network translations at

Even though Microsoft’s use of neural networks for speech and text translation is still at an early stage, it is producing superior translations to what SMT provides. As with any new technology (we’re in the so-called ascent phase of the s-curve), we know the quality improvements neural networks provide today are only a first step towards future improvements. You can learn more about neural network-powered translation here.

By leveraging the scale and power of Microsoft’s AI supercomputer and the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, the team was able to release ten languages simultaneously; additional languages will be supported over time.

The ten languages are in production today, and available for users for translated Skype calls, for Windows desktop and the Skype Preview app for Windows 10, and in the conversation feature of the Microsoft Translator app for iOS and Android.

Anyone can directly try and compare the improved quality of these new neural network models by testing translations at

In addition, for developers and enterprise customers of the Microsoft Translator API, the deployment into production of these new models comes as Microsoft Translator becomes available for test and purchase on the Azure portal. To get started with the Microsoft Translator API using your Azure subscription, click here. If you are already a Microsoft Translator subscriber and want to learn how to move your subscription to Azure, click here.

Neural network-powered translation is available for developers using both the speech and text APIs:

  • All speech API calls are neural network-powered beginning today.
  • Text API calls using the “generalnn” standard category are powered by neural networks for translations between the above 10 languages. Learn more about standard categories here.

You can read about this release and other Microsoft news in Connect(); tech event blog.


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