Microsoft Thinks Voice is Next Big Thing

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Microsoft seems to be embracing touch-sensitive controls more with Windows 7, but the company has given indications that it believes the next big thing in the industry could well be voice commands.

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Microsoft’s general manager for the “Speech at Microsoft Group,” Zig Serafin, is reported to have said in no uncertain terms that, “Voice is the new touch.” Given the rate at which Microsoft seems to have accepted touch-screens, and even been one of the very few companies pushing touch support in the early days of tablet PCs, that’s a fairly big claim to be able to make. According to the folks over at TomsGuide, Serafin put it,

“It’s the natural evolution from keyboards and touch screens. Today, speech is rapidly becoming an expected part of our everyday experience across a variety of devices.”

It’ll be interesting to see what direction Microsoft takes with its support for voice, but we’re hoping it’s something a little more timely than the touch-screen support for Windows 7, which somehow feels just a little bit late.

Perhaps most intriguing is word that voice control is being aimed at both Windows Mobile and Bing Mobile. While we’re not entirely sure about Windows Mobile (not due to any prejudice, just a lack of interaction with the platform), the inclusion of voice control for Bing Mobile could lead to some very interesting features indeed.

It’s only more interesting when you consider the fact that Microsoft has long been trying to move Bing away from the “search engine” space and brand it as a kind of “decision engine.” The idea of being able to ask a phone running a mobile version of Bing where I should go to find the cheapest X or the most best reviewed Y is charming… though of course Bing doesn’t have that kind of integration outside the US, for now at least.

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