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Microsoft plays Show me, Tellme

Buys speech recognition firms

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Microsoft is amping up its voice recognition capability, with the acquisition of Tellme Networks, a 320-man firm based in Mountain View, Calif. Terms are undisclosed, but Microsoft is said to be paying more than $800m, making Tellme its biggest buy since 2002, Bloomberg reports.

Tellme supplies voice-activated services for phone, including directory assistance and mobile search. And Microsoft, which says it has only scratched the surface of what is possible in speech technologies, likes 'em a lot.

Here's a quote from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO: "Speech is universal, simple and holds incredible promise as a key interface for computing. Tellme brings to Microsoft the talent, technology and proven experience in speech that will enable us to deliver a new wave of products and revolutionize human-computer interaction."

We're scared already.

With Tellme's help, Microsoft wants to build voice user-interfaces in existing Microsoft products. Also it wants to speechify Microsoft Live Search for mobile phones and integrate with TellMe's mobile search services. The company is also keen to develop voice-enabled customer service products already.

TellMe's staff will carry on hanging out in Mountain View. Which is nice. ®

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