Microsoft Brings Transcription, New Voice Commands to Word for the Web

Posted on August 25, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365, Office 365 with 10 Comments

Microsoft has announced a new Transcribe feature for Word for web, plus new voice commands for the existing Dictate feature.

“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,” Microsoft’s Dan Parish writes in the announcement post. “If that sounds like you, Transcribe in Word is here to help.”

Transcribe lets anyone with a free Microsoft account record their conversations directly in Word for the web and transcribe them automatically. You can also input a previously recorded conversation and Word for web will transcribe that.

The transcription appears in the Transcribe pane inside Word for the web, with the text from different speakers visually separated. You can edit text directly in the transcription and add any of the text, or all of it, to the current document.

“Transcribe in Word enables you to stay focused on your conversation in the moment, saves you valuable time and energy by transcribing it for you, and is integrated into Word so you can focus on the message of your document and not fuss around with different windows or applications,” Parish continues.

Word for web is also picking up new voice commands for the existing Dictate feature.

“You can stay in the flow and focus on your message by using dictation with voice commands to add, format, edit, and organize your text,” Parish says. “Say things like ‘start list’ or ‘bold last sentence’ to let your ideas flow without stopping to adjust your text. Voice commands understand a variety of symbols so you can add things like ‘ampersand’ and ‘percent sign’, and you don’t have to sound like a robot! We’ve based commands on the way people naturally talk so that you can capture your ideas easily. So saying things like ‘dot dot dot’ when you can’t remember ‘ellipses’ works just as well.”

Transcribe and voice commands are available now to anyone with a free Microsoft account. Microsoft says these new capabilities are coming to Word for Windows and Mac “towards the end of the year” for Microsoft 365 subscribers

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Microsoft Brings Transcription, New Voice Commands to Word for the Web”

  1. sgbassett

    This is a nice feature. I have used the transcripts from Teams meetings, but many of my online meetings these days are in Zoom. I wonder if having Word online running and in dictation mode during a Zoom meeting will allow that Zoom meeting to be transcribed?

  2. buzzmodo

    I was thinking the same thing...

    Feels like you might need to turn on your laptop adjacent to your desktop while in the Zoom meeting. Will have to test it, even thought I routinely record Zoom meetings and then import them into www.otter.ai for transcripts.

    • sgbassett

      In reply to Buzzmodo: Why would you need a two-computer solution? Wouldn't it be enough just to have a Word Online document open with the Transcribe selected and recording while also in the Zoom call on the same machine? I do a podcast with someone who is 1000 miles away. We connect via Zoom so we can see and hear each other, but I also record my side of the podcast locally using Audacity. I do this on my desktop PC. No additional PC needed.


      • IanYates82

        In reply to sgbassett:

        If you have Zoom cloud recording enabled then you can grab the audio-only download from there and feed it in to Word online. It'll have all sides of the conversation.


        Zoom desktop client has some local recording functionality too IIRC

  3. buzzmodo

    There's no reason why it shouldn't, but I would want to test it a couple of times on non-critical calls to make sure, and or just have the laptop running as backup. I know or I think I know that Audacity is specifically engineered to do this, not sure that Microsoft has envisioned the use case we are discussing.

    • sgbassett

      In reply to Buzzmodo: I gave it a test this afternoon and tried to record a Zoom call using this new feature in Word Online. Unfortunately, the recording and the resulting transcript had only my side of the conversation, not the other person on the Zoom call. That may have been because I had Zoom set to use my Bluetooth earbuds (Jabra 75t) as the "speaker" instead of my usual USB headset. Perhaps Windows doesn't pass Bluetooth audio through to other applications like Word Online (which I had running in Credge)?

      On the plus side, the recording on my end was clear (used a Blue Yeti) and the transcript of what I said was very accurate. I will have to try this again but using my USB headset instead.


  4. kenross55

    It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against Otter. It could put them out of business pretty quickly if it's effective.

    Trying it now. It is very slow.

  5. adamstaiwan

    I couldn't use Transcribe with my free Microsoft account. I'm testing now with my office account.

  6. Vladimir Carli

    it's a very nice feature and it works pretty well. It's a pity that is english only. Any word about if and when it will be available in other languages?

  7. buzzmodo

    @sgbassett

    Just tried it in a scenario that I would use. Opened a Word doc, clicked on dictate, tested it, worked fine. Then alt-tabed to open Zoom meeting, started talking, and went back to Word doc, no transcription. Feels like Word needs to stay open, hence the case for having laptop open to my left while talk on Zoom call on desktop. But it's early and certainly Microsoft will get how important this type of "use case" is for people like us.

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