It's not really news when Microsoft says they think their technology can take on or beat Android or the iPhone--it's the same PR spin you'd expect from any company that is about to enter some heavy competition. So it's a bit odd that this story is getting so much clout, but he were go...
Microsoft bought TellMe a few years ago (2007), it first showed up on the Samsung Intrepid and will now finally get robust integration with Windows Phone 7, as was recently demonstrated here in video.
Overall it's quite nice, but dare we say in its current form, hardly revolutionary. In fact, Android's voice control is leaps and bounds beyond what WP7 will be able to do when finally launched e.g. 'Edwin' is pretty ridiculous (see a YouTube demonstration and witness the power of this completely free app). 'Edwin' is so far ahead right now, we're not sure how TellMe is going to catch up, but hey, we're all for a good race.
Recently, TellMe and Windows Phone 7 were demoed and discussed at the SpeechTEK conference. There, MS boasted how TellMe is the largest speech-based natural language processing system in use today. But really, the big news is that Microsoft is planning to really leverage TellMe in Windows Phone 7, expanding its capabilities significantly...over time. For at launch, it will only do some basic things (dial contacts, launch apps and search Bing), but it will go "global" on the phone in the future, allowing widespread control of just about everything.
It's nice to see Microsoft taking voice-control seriously--after all, they did buy a whole company for the tech.
Finally, the last bit of juicy info was talking about Xbox and Kinect, which you can interpret how you want (to us, it sounds like these ideas, remember that rumor?):
"Speech is the core of NUI," he said. Part of the demonstration showed how Microsoft's Kinnect XBox technology could interpret hand gestures to trigger actions on the computer. This technology will be used in Microsoft products beyond the XBox, Bukshteyn said in a subsequent interview with IDG.
Let's hope it means what we think it means.