Microsoft Word is getting a killer new feature

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Microsoft has unveiled a new feature for Microsoft Word that should make note-taking faster and easier than ever, for professional and personal users alike.

According to a Microsoft blog post, the popular word processor will now allow users to transcribe audio in real-time and generate transcripts from existing recordings (including .mp3, .wav, .m4a and .mp4 files).

The new addition, called Transcribe in Word, generates interactive transcripts that sit in the sidebar next to the document - ready to be searched, edited or drawn from.

Word can also differentiate between the voices of multiple speakers, meaning transcripts are simple to read and digest.

Transcribe is available immediately to all Microsoft 365 subscribers via the Microsoft Word web client, but is only compatible with Edge and Google Chrome web browsers.

Microsoft Word update

With the addition of the new transcription feature, Word will now rival popular speech-to-text offerings such as Nuance Dragon and Speechmatics, which are used to compose documents using only voice and for other heavy duty transcription tasks.

“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,” wrote Microsoft.

“Now you can record your conversations directly in Word for the web and transcribe them automatically. After your conversations, 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.”

As well as saving time for anyone that might need to transcribe a long recording - including journalists like ourselves - the new feature could also prove a life-saver for individuals that suffer from a condition that hampers their ability to type effectively.

Users will also enjoy unlimited audio recording and transcription, provided the individual recordings are no longer than five hours and no larger than 200MB.

Microsoft has confirmed the new transcription feature will land on Microsoft Word for mobile devices by the end of the year and support for a wider range of languages (beyond just English) is in the works.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.