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Microsoft launches Voice Command for Pocket PC

Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com) today unveiled its highly anticipated Voice Command for Pocket PC, the company’s first voice-controlled software for Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition.

The new voice recognition program is said to allow users to perform basic functions, such as placing phone calls, launching applications and accessing contact information via voice commands. The software also integrates with the handheld version of Microsoft’s Media Player to allow voice-activated control of digital music playback, Microsoft officials said.

According to Microsoft, Voice Command can considerably improve consumers’ ability to interact with Pocket PC systems. Microsoft officials have long touted emerging speech technologies, and in recent months have publicly declared a commitment to driving emerging speech technologies into mainstream enterprise markets. Last summer, the company made available public beta releases of a number of new speech-oriented products, including the Microsoft Speech Server and the Speech Application Software Development Kit, as well as a new partner program for solution providers building speech applications.

Dale Coffing, editor in chief of PocketPCPassion.com (http://pocketpcpassion.com), gushed that the new offering sets a new standard in voice-controlled applications for mobile devices.

Voice Command uses Microsoft’s next-generation phonetic speech-recognition technology, which the company says can help users to use natural language to interact with their handheld devices. Specifically, this first release of the product includes voice-controlled phone operations, calendar lookup functions, application launch commands, and access to the Windows Media Player controls.

Pieter Knook, corporate vice president for Mobile and Embedded Devices and Network Service Providers at Microsoft, contends that the Voice Command offering represents a significant improvement in speech software that can change the way people use mobile devices.

Originally scheduled for release during the upcoming Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, Voice Command for Pocket PC actually showed up last week as a product selection on Handango, a Web site that specializes in software for handhelds, priced at the MSRP of $39.95. Word spread quickly on the Internet, but as of last Friday, download attempts conjured only error messages. Microsoft officials would not say why the firm jumped the gun on its own product launch.

The product is now available on Handango.com and PocketPC.com.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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