If you’re marketing a product or a service, there’s no better way to connect with users than speaking their language. Also, in this age of web freelancing and social networking, we are likely to have non-English speaking contacts. As Saikat described before, you can try to learn the lingo using LiveMocha. You can also use any of the Top 4 Online Translation Services that Maria reviewed, when you want to translate published content. But what about real-time translation?
At the outset, let me confess that machine translation usually sucks. You’re much better off with human translators any day. But what do you do for real-time chat? Till now, one had to use a different IM client like MeGlobe, to chat in a foreign language. Now, you can use Microsoft’s TBot. No installation required!
Microsoft has an impressive array of translation tools for users, webmasters, and developers, like Live Translator, but the release of Windows Live Messenger Translation bot (TBot) last year is still not widely known. Using TBot, you can chat with others in up to 13 foreign languages, or even chat with TBot itself to practice learning a foreign language. What’s more, you do not actually need to use Windows Live Messenger. You can use any IM client you like, as long as it supports the MSN protocol. Let’s see how you can use TBot in 3 easy steps to chat in a foreign language.
Step #1: Add TBot to your Contacts
To get started, you will first need to add TBot to your contact list.
From the Live Messenger toolbar, select the “˜Add a contact’ option as shown above, and add “˜firstname.lastname@example.org’ as the contact address.
Click “˜Send Invitation’ on the next screen to add TBot to your contact list. There is no need for any personal message. You should now see “˜Translator’ as one of your available contacts as shown below:
That’s it. You are all set!
Step #2: Invite TBot to a Conversation
When you want TBot’s translation services to help in a conversation, click the “˜Invite’ menu in the conversation window.
From the contact list that appears, select “˜Translator (Available, Agent)’.
TBot enters the conversation and asks you to select the target language.
I chose Russian as an example, and typed “˜12′:
To check out the list of TBot’s commands, you can enter “˜TBot ?’:
Step #3: Chat in a Foreign Language
For the sake of this post, to imitate two people chatting, I used two different IM clients – Windows Live Messenger and Pidgin. Let us suppose I’m English Dude with Live Messenger, chatting with Russian Gal who is averse to installing any Microsoft software and thus uses Pidgin on Linux. Russian Gal uses the “˜TBot change’ command to select Russian as her Source Language:
With TBot all set to translate at both ends, both of them now chat. This is what English Dude sees in his Live Messenger:
While Russian Gal sees the following in her Pidgin client:
As you can see, English Dude and Russian Gal are having an engaging conversation with the help of real-time translation by TBot.
TBot has hisin Windows Live Spaces, where you will also find a mini-FAQ. If you’re traveling in a foreign country, add TBot to Windows Live Messenger on your Windows Mobile device to get a free Translation Assistant with you!
Have you tried any other real-time translation software? How was your experience with TBot? Do let us know in the comments!