If you want to have a translated, spoken conversation with someone who speaks Italian, Mandarin, or Spanish, just download the free app from the Windows Store. Microsoft says Skype Translator works with almost any Skype client, meaning only you need to be the one with the Translator app enabled.
Translator looks almost exactly the same as the standard metro UI Skype app. The most important difference is the Translation slider button that appears under the name of each contact when you are in conversation view.
Skype Translator does not distinguish between spoken languages on the fly. Instead, you have to pre-set the languages each person is speaking or writing in. Translator will prompt you to do this when you flip the Translation feature on, or you can click the language options underneath the slider.
During a Translator call, Microsoft advises you to use a headset with a microphone instead of a stand-alone mic. You should also use a wired connection rather than Wi-Fi. Translated calls also take longer to connect than a typical Skype call. You can find a complete list of Translator tips on Skype’s site.
Why this matters: Translator is only in the preview stage and it’s limited in the number of spoken languages it can translate. Nevertheless, the fact that Skype Translator exists and is now available to the public is a huge advance for online communication. Live translation of spoken languages has long been a dream of technologists, futurists, and sci-fi writers. Now, it’s becoming a reality. Perhaps even more surprising, it came from Microsoft first and not Google.
Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.