Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bye Bye Speech Server -- Hello SPS

So, Microsoft Speech Server is being folded into Office Communication Server, and will be known as Speech Platform Services. This was announced at today's SpeechTek conference. Office Communication Server (OCS) is basically Live Communication Server, which does presence and SIP call routing.

I have fairly mixed views about this move. First, the negatives. Yet again, Microsoft is making a mid-course correction with their speech offering. At the beginning the vision was multimodal speech. Then it was telephony-based speech rec by web developers (by sprinkling "SALT" on their web pages to speech-enable them). Then it telephony-based speech rec using more standard methods, such as VoiceXML. Now it's speech rec as part of an enterprise information system. For developers actually trying to build applications, all these course corrections are unnerving, to say the least. If the overall goal, as Microsoft says, is to create an "ecosystem" then they need to realize that stability is a key factor. Wandering climate change isn't helping.

Now the positives. OCS is a strategic product for Microsoft. Communication is becoming a key part of every organization. Communication across devices. Synchronous and ayschronous communication. Features such as: presence, IM, VoIP, video, Find-Me, Follow-Me, and ad-hoc conferencing. Think EMail++. For speech rec to be bundled into such a strategic product is a huge win. It also shows that the speech folks at Microsoft have been listening and learning. Changing course often works out better than not changing course!

Lets hope the transition to OCS is as seamless as possible for existing MSS speech developers.

1 comment:

Marshall Harrison - "the gotspeech guy" said...

Well thought out response Ian.

I think that this is a great move and will prove to be huge in the future although it does screw up some peoples near term plans.