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Microsoft, ScanSoft pair up for speech software

Text-to-speech technology will be featured in a range of Redmond's server products, beginning with Speech Server 2004.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that it plans to use text-to-speech technology from ScanSoft in its server application product lines.

The expanded deal covers the full portfolio of ScanSoft products, as well as access to the company's services unit and Virtuoso custom voice program, the companies said.

ScanSoft's text-to-speech software will be featured in a range of Microsoft server products, beginning with Speech Server 2004. Text-to-speech software is designed to convert written text into spoken words.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Technology companies are increasingly working on voice recognition software that could let consumers use spoken commands with devices such as cell phones. Such software can also help automated customer-service answering systems better respond to voice navigation.

ScanSoft is one of the leading makers of voice recognition software. It has attracted interest from other computing giants as well, such as IBM.

"Microsoft and ScanSoft share a common vision for bringing speech technologies into the mainstream," Kai-Fu Lee, vice president for speech technologies at Microsoft, said in a statement. "The breadth and humanlike quality of ScanSoft's TTS (text-to-speech) technology was a key factor in our decision to partner strategically with ScanSoft in this area."