Microsoft has removed its Skype Translator preview out of closed beta and made the software available to anyone running Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 Technical Preview. No sign-up is necessary. The announcement regarding the released update was posted on Microsoft’s Skype blog last week.

Skype Translator currently comes with four spoken word languages – English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Italian – and 50 IM languages, including Klingon. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that one used more than most of the human languages Skype included. It’s tempting to make some Star Trek references here but Skype Translator doesn’t automatically recognize spoken languages on the fly – yet. However, both spoken word and IM provide practically instant translation as soon as the “send” button is clicked. There’s very little waiting involved.

[image via]

But, in order for the translator to work properly you have to select a language in advance. You’ll notice this option in the interface. Translator looks almost identical to the standard Skype app that everyone is used to; the only real noticeable difference is the Translation slider button underneath the name of each contact on your list.

Skype began letting people test the preview software last December. Since then, Microsoft has recommended that anyone who uses Translator do so using a headset with a microphone rather than a standalone microphone. This is because Translator seems to be spotty when using a standalone; no problems have been reported by users who opt for the headset/microphone combo.

User testing seems to be the key ingredient in further progressing Translator, so this wider beta launch probably means its almost ready for its big release. Skype Translator is about to get a lot bigger, faster, and smarter in a short amount of time. Skype’s Translator project originally looked like science fiction, but it’s soon to become available to almost anyone who owns a modern Windows device. The future’s here.

Skype Translator Preview is available in the Windows Store.