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New Microsoft live dictation and transcription feature for Word is now available

A new Transcribe feature is available today in Microsoft Word on the Web for paid Microsoft 365 subscribers. Designed to help writers and journalists instantly and easily transcribe in-person conversations or virtual interviews, Microsoft hopes the feature can help users save time and accomplish more throughout the day.

Like the Dictate feature that already turns spoken words into text in Word, Transcribe in Word on the Web in Microsoft 365 is seamless. It is currently available in any web browser by visiting Microsoft Word online and clicking the Home tab, followed by the down arrow next to the Dictate icon, and then the Transcribe button.

Transcribe in Word on the Web works in two time-saving ways. With the first, Microsoft 365 subscribers can record an interview or conference live through Word on the Web and get a transcript in the document right after it is completed. Subscribers can also upload a MP3 MP4 M4a, or WAV of an existing audio file to get a complete transcription of a prerecorded interview or even a web conference.

The feature will also be coming to Android and iOS versions of Word later this year, and Microsoft is looking into bringing it to Word on the desktop as well.

Powered by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services, the feature works its artificial intelligence magic in the background. This means that even if you opt to record live, you can still take notes in the background and type your document as Word does its transcription. A typical transcription will take just a few minutes, according to Microsoft, and the feature cuts out the need to go through multiple apps.

Once a transcription is finished, recordings are stored in a Transcribed Files folder in OneDrive. Then, from a pop-out pane in Word on the Web, you will be free to select and edit certain points, add additional information, or correct typos from the automatic transcription. You also can insert certain or full excerpts into the document or play back the audio file right from inside Word on the Web.

Currently, audio can only be transcribed into English. There is also is a five-hour limit of transcription time per month for uploaded recordings and a file-size limit of 200mb. Microsoft says it is working to improve this, though, and that there is no limit to recording live.

“Whether its touch, pen, or voice, we want to enable everyone to work in the way that’s best for them so they can be more effective and focus on what matters most,” said Dan Parish, principal group program manager for Microsoft Office, during a virtual press briefing.

Also launching alongside the Transcribe in Word feature in Word will be some new voice command features for the existing Dictate feature. You’ll be able to say things like “start list,” or “bold last sentence” without stopping to adjust your text or touching the keyboard or the tabs on the screen.

Microsoft sees these features being used not only by journalists but also by students with learning differences who aren’t able to take notes at the same time as a lecture. The company even sees it being used by parents who are busy with their children during a virtual meeting.

“At Microsoft, we’re uniquely positioned to help provide a one-stop shop where your audio recording, transcript, notes, and your story can all live together in a single, familiar, secure tool so you don’t have to worry about fussing around with different windows and apps,” said Parish.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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