Microsoft's Skype Translator is going live today in a preview phase covering two spoken languages, Spanish and English, plus over 40 instant messaging languages. The real-time translation service makes it possible for people who speak completely different languages to communicate over Skype, while voice input from each other is delivered to the other end in their native tongue.

Microsoft says the tool is the result of years of work from its research team and Skype and it believes it could have a great impact in breaking barriers and helping change the way the world communicates in the future.

The company has previously demonstrated the technology but only in controlled environments. It'll be interesting to see how accurate Skype Translator is when a much wider audience starts using it. In fact, the tool relies on machine learning, so it should only get better as time passes.

Skype offered some details about how its new Translator feature works in a blog post today alongside a video explaining the testing process, and another video showing students from Mexico and US playing a game of Mystery Skype.

The preview program will be free of charge and limited to those with Windows 8.1 computers and tablets as well as Windows 10 Technical Preview users. Interested? You can request an invite at Microsoft's Skype website.