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Skype Translator previews for real-time chats

Microsoft rolls out its first public preview of Skype's instant translation service, which is initially available on Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets.

Skype Translator is coming your way. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Microsoft has made available a first public preview of Skype Translator, a new service for real-time language translation.

Company execs announced Skype Translator in May 2014, noting that a public preview would be available this year. The company began taking sign-ups for the preview in November.

The new feature translates conversations both ways in near real-time. Skype Translator will display an on-screen transcript of the call, and, ultimately, it will translate instant-message chats in more than 45 languages.

Initially, the preview is available only for Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets and only in Spanish and English. Microsoft is expected to make the service available across a wide variety of devices and operating systems over time.

Microsoft officials have been working to deliver real-time language translation for at least two years.

This story originally posted as "Microsoft makes available preview of Skype Translator" on ZDNet.