On the Code Conference stage in California, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced an upcoming feature for Skype: live voice translation. The demonstration showed a German speaker speaking to an English speaker. The English words automatically were repeated by the computer in German, while the German speech was automatically spoken back by the computer in English…

The live demonstration was certainly impressive, but German-speaking audience members noted that the translation was “nice” overall, but “not so good” in some places. The speakers said that the feature works for portraying the essence of the speech. Microsoft has posted additional details about the feature on its corporate blog.

Nadella says that the feature will launch in beta “later this year” and it will eventually spread to all Skype-supported devices (which covers iOS and OS X). The beta will first become available for Windows 8. Nadella said that Microsoft has data for 40 languages (which it uses for Bing Translate), but it will take some time for all those languages to become available for this future software.

Nadella was unsure if the feature would eventually become a paid add-on proposition, but it sounds like the feature will be free during the initial public beta period.

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