Translation for MSN: Auto Translates Messages While Chatting

Mahendra Palsule 08-06-2009

translation for msnIf 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 LiveMocha - Smell The Coffee & Learn The Lingo Read More . You can also use any of the Top 4 Online Translation Services Forget Google Translate: 3 Ways to Get an Accurate, Quick Translation Whether you're planning to apply for a job or an apartment abroad, or are looking to translate your web page, you need to get things right even with a foreign language. Read More 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.

Add Contact Menu

From the Live Messenger toolbar, select the “˜Add a contact’ option as shown above, and add “˜’ as the contact address.


Add TBot Contact

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:

Translator In Contacts

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.

Invite Menu

From the contact list that appears, select “˜Translator (Available, Agent)’.

Invite TBot


TBot enters the conversation and asks you to select the target language.

Invited TBot

I chose Russian as an example, and typed “˜12′:

Select Target Language


To check out the list of TBot’s commands, you can enter “˜TBot ?’:

TBot Help

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:

Select Target 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:

TBot in Live Messenger

While Russian Gal sees the following in her Pidgin client:

TBot in Pidgin

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 his own profile in 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!

Related topics: Instant Messaging, Online Chat, Translation.

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  1. terry
    October 16, 2009 at 12:56 am

    i dont see any thing saying invite to let someone in it was working before now it dont work and also it does not say translator available
    agent only tbot 2 alpha so can you tell me how to fix this problem

  2. spaceface
    September 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I'll wait for Google Wave to launch instead.

  3. ayanleh
    September 29, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    hi ??

  4. Gill
    September 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Does TBot translate English to Turkish? Can't see the option in the list of languages.

  5. faisal kalim
    June 11, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Hi! This is just amazing! Even though I am myself a translator I did not know about it. Will surely spend quality time trying it out. Thanks a lot!

  6. Tamara
    June 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    It is definetely an interesting tool, however even by looking at samples of what was translated it is no different from machine translation and has tons of mistakes leading to misunderstanding and confusion. It's helpful to use it in everyday conversation if you do not know the language, but make sure to translate important messages and ideas with live translator, like Prime Language Services: No program can substitute a live translator. If you do use the program, try to avoid slang and words with versatile meaning, e.g. instead of Gal type Girl.

  7. Jose Rodriguez
    June 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Hello Mahendra,

    I thought I'd let you know that you can also access your MSN buddy lists through ( along with your Yahoo and AIM accounts as well. Thank you for mentioning us!

    • Mahendra
      June 9, 2009 at 8:45 pm

      @Jose: Yes, I was aware of that, and also that MeGlobe has an in-built learning mechanism that takes input from users' corrections. The beauty and emphasis of this post was to highlight how you can use translation with your existing IM client of choice.

  8. Giselle
    June 9, 2009 at 1:48 am

    The bots of Google Talk are better: Portuguere -> English English -> Portuguese

    Probably there's other ones en2'anotherlanguage'

  9. Aibek
    June 9, 2009 at 1:21 am

    I speak Russian and can say that although the translation is not great it's a damn useful tool.

    • Jackson Chung
      June 10, 2009 at 5:48 am

      Yup, I was just going to say that it isn't very accurate or "real life" but still it's better than nothing.

      Where is the translation based from?