Microsoft Teams to offer auto transcripts in “near real time”

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The real-time transcription service for Teams meetings will only be available for some subscription packages.

Microsoft this week unveiled its AI-powered live transcription service in Microsoft Teams. The addition of the feature marks Microsoft’s somewhat belated entry into the race to provide additional videoconferencing features.

Indeed, Cisco announced its closed captioning service for Webex back in December, and Zoom announced its own live transcription feature earlier this month. In addition, Google has also announced live captions to Chrome.

AI helps improve accuracy and cost efficiency

Shalendra Chhabra, Lead Principal Program Manager for Teams, detailed the new feature addition in a blog post this week. “Delivering live transcription with high accuracy, minimal latency, and cost efficiency at enterprise scale has been one of the toughest challenges in the industry,” he explains.

“Over the last two years we’ve made significant strides in solving this problem and have dramatically improved our models for accuracy using meeting context in real time and cutting edge AI.”

The transcript feature is primarily for Microsoft’s enterprise customers and is only available to customers with licenses for Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, and Microsoft 365 Business Premium SKUs. So we can conclude that it’s available for Microsoft 365 business users, but not for consumers.

Leveraging other Teams features and functions

Microsoft Teams live transcription can identify each speaker. It then captures audio in “near real time” to provide a record of what people say during and after the meeting.

The feature uses a Teams meeting’s invitation, participant names, attachments, etc. to improve the accuracy. It also uses this information to recognize meeting-specific jargon for each transcript automatically, without any human involvement.

“This means no one at Microsoft ever sees the meeting’s content, and the models are automatically deleted immediately after each meeting,” Chhabra says. “In addition, Microsoft doesn’t use or store this data for improving its own AI,” he promises.

Privacy and all the rest

In terms of privacy, live transcription is similar to recording a meeting, says Chhabra. Participants are notified that live transcription is on and have the ability to hide it from their meeting view with just a click. If they choose to remain anonymous, attendees can also turn off speaker attribution in their profile settings.

Chhabra cautions his readers, however, as to the product’s limitations. “Note that live transcription is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate,” he warns, “and so should not be relied upon in life-altering situations.”

Tip: Zoom vs Google Meet vs Microsoft Teams vs Webex Meetings vs BlueJeans