Yesterday I announced that Speech Server 2007, which will ship as part of Office Communications Server 2007, will ship with nine additional TTS languages. For me, it was very exciting to be able to announce this because that was the first time I have received permission to blog about something that was not public (let's hope it's not the last :))
One of the languages I mentioned yesterday was Brazilian Portuguese. We will also have support soon for Portugal Portuguese so very soon you will be able to create speech applications that can say and recognize "Bom dia" in two different accents. Whoah! You might be saying. Didn't he just say yesterday that you can only create TTS applications with the new languages? This is not true for Portuguese - as SR engines also exist.
In fact, for those of you who live in Brazil, I have heard if you call the Microsoft directory in those countries you will in fact be greeted by an application running on top of Speech Server. This application is similar to our directory assistance program we run in Redmond - where you say an employee's name and can be transferred to that individual. More information about this project can be found here.
I tried to convince my manager to send me to Portugal or Brazil in order to give proper feedback and assistance on the applications (such as whether the TTS is clear enough to be heard on the beach) but alas my efforts failed. Actually, my understanding is in the Brazilian case the auto attendant pilot is currently only available in Sao Paulo - but I still think it's worthwhile for me to verify the voice quality over long distance - perhaps from Rio or Bahia.
One of the unique aspects of this development is that it was created in one of our new Microsoft Language Development Centers that are dedicated to local language development. See here for more information. Although based in Portugal, the language center there focuses on all versions of Portuguese - so the Brazilian engine was also created there.
If any of you would like to get involved in their Beta program you can do so here. Note that this also appears to be the Beta signup for other languages as they are introduced. If you would like to join the TAP program for Brazilian Portuguese with Office Communications Server 2007 Speech Server you can do so here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.