Microsoft has added what could prove to be a killer feature for Word that promises to end heavy keyboard use, namely the ability for it to transcribe audio conversations in a document.

The software giant revealed the feature in a blog post by Dan Parish, a manager for natural user interface & incubation at Microsoft, in which he discussed ‘Transcribe in Word’ for the web.

It is hard to believe that Microsoft Word is 36 years old, after it was released to the world back in 1983, and it remains the most widely used word processor in the world.

Transcribe in Word

The new ‘Transcribe in Word’ feature comes at a time when many people are still remote working because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Staff are often forced to conduct interviews or meetings over the telephone or via online tools such as Microsoft Teams.

“Whether you’re a reporter conducting interviews, a researcher recording focus group sessions, or an online entrepreneur recording informal discussions, you want to be able to focus on the people you’re talking to without worrying about taking notes and without having to spend hours transcribing your conversations after-the-fact,” blogged Parish. “If that sounds like you, Transcribe in Word is here to help.”

“Now you can record your conversations directly in Word for the web and transcribe them automatically,” wrote Parish. “Transcribe detects different speakers so after you finish recording, you can easily follow the flow of the transcript. After your conversation, you can revisit parts of the recording by playing back the time-stamped audio and you can even edit the transcript if you see something amiss.”

According to Parish, the transcript will appear alongside the Word document, along with the recording. The user can even cherry pick the perfect quote from an interview to support the main point of the article. All they need to do is just click the plus icon on any line of the transcript and the exact quote is inserted into the text.

Or users could send the entire transcript to a work colleague by simply clicking “add all to document”. The full transcript will then be laid out in Word.

And ‘Transcribe in Word’ also enables users to upload audio or videos recorded outside of Word, for example a video or voice recording on a mobile phone or from a video conferencing app.

Supported formats include.mp3, .wav, .m4a, or .mp4 files.

Available now

At the moment ‘Transcribe in Word’ is available in Word for the web for all Microsoft 365 subscribers. It is also supported in the new Microsoft Edge or Chrome browsers.

There is currently a five hour limit per month for uploaded recordings and each uploaded recording is limited to 200MB.

Transcribe in Office mobile will be coming by the end of the year.

English (EN-US) is currently the only language supported, but Microsoft is working on support for more languages.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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