Since I’ve been catching up, I’ve noticed Windows Live Translator. Windows Live’s newest tool that can translate text or web pages.
It was actually on one of my Windows Live wishlists back in July. I was hoping they would come out with one soon. It’s #6 on my list.
So far, for the most, Windows Live Translator does a pretty good job. Generally, it offers a nice translation of text. However, I did notice one inconsistency.
I was translating: "Recycling is the key to health." from English to German.
As far as I knew, it seemed to be correct. But just to double-check, I copied the German translation of it, and did a German to English translation, of the last text.
Instead, this time, the English translation reads: "The recycling is the key to the health."
Obviously, that’s not what I really meant. It make less sense. Now I know that internet translators, including Windows Live, aren’t guaranteed to translate 100% correctly, but I really wish they did. It would make the whole world a lot easier.
The most the translator will at least offer, is at least the basic gist or know-how of what’s being said. You can catch some keywords, and pretty much understand them if you string them together, in case the translation might be faulty. This type of thing is what’s common in all Internet translators. Not just Windows Live.
The thing that’s really neat though, is the way it translates web pages.
Live Translator offers a Bilingual Viewer, which allows you to see both the original site and the translated site together, and dynamically. It supports synchronized highlights of blocks of texts, scrolling, and navigation for both sites, at the same time. Pretty neat if you ask me. As far as I know, no other translation service does that, not even Google Translator. Kinda nifty.
Bilingual View does 4 layouts:
- Side by Side
- Top & Bottom
- Original with hover translation (original page, where you can hover over blocks of words and see the translation)
- Translation with hover original (translated page, where you can hover over blocks of words, and see the original)
I tried it, and it works pretty fast. Doesn’t take longer than 2 seconds. Not that I timed it, but I estimated it to be less than 2 seconds. To me, that’s fast. As far as I can tell, it does a great job.
There’s of course a wishlist that I want to add (for other translators too):
- More languages support – Translators always at least have the most common languages of course, like English, Spanish, French, Chinese, German, and so-on. But it would be awesome if there were translations of more languages like Portuguese, Vietnamese, Latin, and I guess any other populous languages out there. Having it would be a great tool. I also would love to see more translations across other languages besides English. Like German to Spanish, or Japanese to Italian. Not just to/from English. That would come in handy for other people across the world.
- Vernacular, slang, & common phrases included – Languages can be pretty complex. Like a person who doesn’t know English real well, might get confused by sayings like, "Man, are you a chicken.", or even phrases like, "That’s so cool!", "She’s hot!", stuff like that. The person could assume that they literally are being called a chicken, that something is cool (as in feel), or hot (as in touch). And that’s pretty confusing. But we as Americans have that way of talking all the time. So maybe the translator can look into the context of the text, and match-up with phrases common in the other language. Live Translator does offer computer lingo speak, as a subscript in it’s translation, but common phrases would also be neat to have.
- Inline Search – Put that search box right at the top to use. Have it do inline search on the websites (original or translated) that you are viewing. I already can do this from the search box in IE7, but it wouldn’t hurt if Microsoft can go a step up, and add this in themselves. You know, if I’m interested in finding this specific Italian word on the translated website. That kind of stuff, would make it useful.
- Bump off the word limit – I’ve already told this to MSN Soapbox, but I’ll say it again: No text limits please. At least not up to 500 words. I don’t see what’s the deal with adding one or 2 more extra letters/words. Will I kill the system or something? Seriously – get rid of these limits. If there’s some need to do so, do it at 1,000 words. I might not hit 500, but I might. Either ways, there’s should be no limit on text input. I don’t mind an extra ad, but less functionality kills.
Now I don’t know how close any translator, Windows Live or not, can do that, but I would bet it would be the best if it did. What Windows Live Translator offers right now is relatively good, but include those 4 other wishes, and you’ll have the best. Practically.
My 4 wishes, polishing up the page with consistency and a few graphical icons, and you’ve got something there.
I’ve used Google Translator for earlier translations, but Live Translator is shaping up to be a real contender. I might start using it from now on, or when it’s out of beta. I always did think that Google Translator was a wee bit crammed and bland, but it worked. Windows Live Translator appears to be a great tool.
I hope this is a new start in Windows Live where it starts offering more tools & services to people – especially for free.