back to article Holy f**k, Microsoft covers up ‘undesired’ words

Microsoft has gained patent rights to a technology for censoring speech. An automatic censoring filter, available in real-time mode or a batch mode, processes an input audio data stream containing speech and then alters “undesired words or phrases” to make them “unintelligible or inaudible”. The software giant was awarded …


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  1. Daniel Silver badge

    I predict a sudden rise in accidental spoonerisms

    Callcenter employees will simply find alternative ways to express their ire - for example a Wunch of Bankers. How will the system filter this out?

  2. Wize

    But.... can't...

  3. Kilham
    Gates Horns

    Another M$ Original

    Microsoft you can't


    Now they're even 'borrowing' ideas from the BOFH......

  4. Tom

    My first use for this

    will be to use it to remove the words and phrases such as Microsoft, Windows, Fistula, dot net etc and associated sentences from any audio or visual stream coming through our firewall.

    That should reduce their advertising.

  5. Paul Murphy
    Gates Horns

    Welcome to the new future. (est 1984)

    So if it can detect certain words or phrases to mask them then I guess it can also replace them?

    The new today bought to by M$:

    Today it was reported that<INSERT>our glorious leader </INSERT> Bill Gates has once again <DELETE>stolen </DELETE><INSERT>given </INSERT> $10,000bn <DELETE>from </DELETE><INSERT>to </INSERT> windows users.

    Hmm I can't see why M$ would like to have the patent on that at all. I wonder what they will be doing with it, I bet it'll be double-plus good.


  6. Chris Miller

    There goes "Private Lives"

    Amanda: Very flat, Nor-*beep*.

  7. John P
    Paris Hilton

    Am I being thick

    or have Microsoft just patented a technology that has existed for years and is used by pretty much every broadcaster in the world in some way or another?

    If I am being thick, feel free to say so. I'm married, I'm used to it.

    Paris, as she isn't remotely interested in censoring anything.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Censoring the word "Vista" ?

    Haha... and Apple today released an ad with the PC guy bleeping out the word Vista.

    Funny coincidence!!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This ******* **** is *****a* ** great *** idea-******** *****!

    Harrumph! So there!

  10. Hywel Thomas

    See it in action here...

  11. 4a$$Monkey

    A title is required.

    Customer > Hello Microsoft support, my machine is running slow.

    MS Support > What OS are you running?

    Customer > Vista...

    MS Support > Well you should have installed Lin#BEEP#... you stu#BEEP#... twa#BEEEEEP#...

  12. Mark Lockwood
    Gates Horns

    Undesired words?



    Anti-trust commission

    Feel free to add to the list....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the real use...

    ... will be to filter the speech of customers who phone call centres, so that $COMPANY will no longer be able to hear exactly what you think of them.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't work

    >Or in call centres, if a shirty employee goes off the rails and starts swearing at the customer

    That made me think of Basil Fawlty. He certainly went off the rails but I don't recall him swearing. This just proves that the software is utterly useless as you don't need to swear to insult and sometimes you can be extremely insulting whilst being very polite. But I forget, Americans don't understand the latter so how could Microsoft.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Have you heard?

    Im sure this will be misused. E.g. digital phonecalls of the future...

    Caller: Hi there; I have a problem with VISTA... what can I do?

    Tech 1: Well there is a much better OS than VISTA: its called Lixxxspsdhfhdux....

    Caller: Sorry I dont understand?

    Tech 1: Well Lixusssshfhsux; it is the OS of choice for the small cheap computers... They often use flavours such as Xansshadhsdreooshhh or Ubusnshydftu...

    Caller: Im sorry I really dont understand. There is some strange words.... Are you sure something is better than Vista?

    Tech 1: Damn Microsoft filter...

  16. John Imrie

    It's not entirely clear where Microsoft's interest in this technology lies


    You mean that MS have no reasion to turn my speach from 'Linux is grate' to 'Linux grates'

  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    I can just imagine it now...

    'Well "beep"-damn you "Mellon-farmers"! I don't want any "funking" trouble with this software or the "bits" going to really the fan. Are you listening to me, you "money-framers"? '

    It will certainly be a laugh testing it out on your favourite Indian sponsered call-centre staffer, available from your favourite energy supplier.

  18. Shakje

    One step closer...

    to Demolition Man

  19. Neil

    They've been censoring for years

    Anyone who uses MSN will know that live realtime censorship has been in place for years. Although rather than replacing the undesired word with *** the whole message returns with a "unable to be sent" message. Coupled with the fact that the list of blocked words or terms changes silently from time to time, you may occasionally find yourself being unable to do things like share youtube links or talk about being a sysadmin.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    I've already seen it in action

    in the latest 'V Word' Get a Mac ads

  21. Simon

    Who th* **** ***?

    Well I d*** ** **** *** the *** **** ****** *** M*****oft c*n **** in their *** ***** with a big ** **** ****** ****, ****** *** untill it **** *** ****, ***** and they find a doctor to pull it back out.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Bet it's US based

    As MS stuff is always US biased, it will ban, going for a quick fag, but let wanker through, or is it understood over there now?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    This bodes unwell

    has a suggestion as to how machine filtering will work.

    But seriously, has the world gone >fornictioning< >sanity impared<. Between the UK's rather entertaining notion of manually cleaning all user generated content and MS's equally bat>quano< >sanity impared< notion of allowing the machines to censor us, has anyone considered the posibility that obscenity, crudity and unpleasantness are part of human society and need expression?

  24. Richard
    Gates Halo

    You know ...

    Something tells me they will have problems implementing this at the Fukutoku Bank in Japan.

  25. Soruk

    This could have quite comedic implications for all the wrong reasons

    Imagine having a live news broadcast edited in such a way that "less offensive" words are used in place of the original. Stuff like the olympic runner finding himself being called "Tyson Homosexual" on one website (as reported here ) would happen on a daily basis at the least opportune times in the worst possible way. What about substring matching? The good old clbuttic case of website software trying to clean up the content. Local news in Scunthorpe? Forget it.

    Mine's the one with the plans to buttbuttinate the person who came up with this idea stuffed in the pocket.

  26. John
    Thumb Up

    Xbox live

    Would be pretty handy on Xbox live.

  27. Andrew Wood

    Censoring the idiots

    Surley it is more likely that this will be employed on XBox Live than on call centers. Right now I have to pretty much not use the voice chat stuff cause of all the fools that cant keep control of there language during online play. I certainly wouldnt even consider letting my younger kids on there.

  28. Omar Marquez

    What about last names with dodgy words?

    I feel sorry for anyone with the last name of Cockburn, especially if mispronounced:

    "Thanks for your call, mister <BLEEP>burn!"

  29. James

    The swanky people of Scunthorpe are really fucated

    A phrase that will arise infrequently but may cause some problems.

  30. Andrew

    It had to be done

    I *beep*ume the *beep*ple from s*beep*horpe are going to be especially *beep*ed by this. I think it's downright ri*beep*ulous.

  31. Fred Mbogo


    Sweet! Can I get the software on some nanomachines so that whenever someone says my name it comes out as La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo?*

    *Spot the game reference.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another reason it won't work

    I've just realised that when I speak as God intended people to speak then I say cunt quite a lot, as in...

    Ah cunt - I couldn't

    'e cunt - He couldn't

    tha cunt - You couldn't


    It would have to think a bit over the last example as it could also be the insult it sounds to be.

  33. Gabor Laszlo

    Buncha smegheads

    Seems they're trying to reduce us to their level of illiteracy. 'Pruning' the language never works.

    BTW, anyone named Dick Peacock out there? 'Hi, my name is *bleep* *bleepbleep*'

  34. DPWDC
    Gates Halo


    I'll look forward to seeing this on xbox live, stop the little 5 year old who think its big and clever to swear and mention the revolution every 5 mins

    Actually, a better system might be one that works off voice stress & context - in that example "going for a quick fag" would get through but shouting "you mother is a tulip!! you w*nk*r" would still get baned.

  35. DAN*tastik

    Thank god it's MS who thought of it

    If they patent it, does it mean that any other company - who might be able to make such a software work - won't be able to do it?

  36. Martin Maloney

    [Inaudible] the censors!

    Think of how many DJs' jobs could have been saved, in the 80s, when they spoonerized the album title "Cunning Stunts," had this technology been in place at that time.

    Due to the law of unintended consquences, these holy crusades against smut always crash and burn. For instance, AOL gave up, some years back, when customers complained that its filter blocked the name of the very real USA city, Middlesex, New Jersey.

    Moreover, these guardians of the public (or is that "pubic?") morality fail to grasp that people's imaginations are far smuttier than is real smut.

    For instance, your cat is in your lap, and you say, "I'm sitting here, petting my pussy." Filtered, it becomes, "I'm sitting here, petting my [inadible]".

    See what I mean? You are all total [inaudible]!


  37. Russell Howe
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Interesting

    Would that be Loom?

    Paris, 'cos I'm about as sure as she would be

  38. Gearhead

    I Wonder

    I wonder if the "Undesired" list includes "Microsoft SUCKS" and/or "Linux is GREAT".

  39. Hollerith

    what words are offensive?

    We can all see that Middlesex and Cockburn and so on could be caught, but what of 'breast' as in 'breast cancer' or 'tit' as in 'tit-for-tat' or 'homosexual' as in 'a word that is never offensive, though it can be mistakenly applied to someone'?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another reason it won't work

    If I might be permitted a further comment on Gods' own language and get another rude word in before they are banned. Cock is a term of endearment between males. My male elders call me cock, I call my male youngers and peers cock.

    Oh, and rude reminded me of ruddy as in ruddy complexion, which set me off on a tangent and I recalled that Americans don't like the word knickers and don't even realise the correct meaning of it.

  41. Robert Ramsay

    What about...

    ...Dick van Dyke?

  42. Colin Millar

    Of course it will work

    It might break a few (ok - quite a lot) of things and not make any sense but it will work

    This is from a US corporation - you know - the country that is actually being sold on obama (sounds like therefore equals) osama.

    And if you think its just a passing joke and no country of people could ever be so thick as to fall for that then just search on David Howard & niggardly

  43. dreadful scathe
    Gates Halo


    another patent on the bleeding obvious ? live tv has had to sort out this for years - isnt there a 5 second delay or something ? there has been text based censoring since there has been text based messaging! can we expect Father Ted episodes to filter out 'Fek 'as it sounds a bit like something else, thus making it appear far more sweary than it really is.

    Bill would never swear!

  44. Doug Glass

    I Wonder ...

    ... will "vole" be disallowed? Doesn't matter anyway, some of the best a$$ chewing sessions I've been privy too have used no vulgar words. Most languages are filled with descriptive terms that can be used in an intelligent conversation to get the point across and make the target individual understand what's really being said.

    I do wonder if the frelling morons fully comprehend the depth of their stupidity, their canine heritage or the nature of their dung filled craniums. No doubt all of them have been passed from the bowel of Satan and rose to heights in the company based solely on "The Peter Principle".

  45. Markie Dussard
    Gates Horns


    I don't know how you pronounce 'Scunthorpe', but a Yorkshireman would never fall foul of this.

    Mind you, if he was trying to organise a ramble in the surrounding countryside, he might have a problem.

  46. Graham Marsden


    On one internet forum I used, in a discussion of the works of the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, his name was rendered by their software as "Philip K Masculine Area"!

    Mine's the one with a copy of Monty Python's "I bet you they won't play this song on the radio" in the pocket...

  47. Alan Esworthy
    Thumb Up

    @Chris W

    Thank you so much for finding such an amusing and endearing way to let us all know of your cognitive difficulties and the unfortunate result, namely a minor prejudice regarding Americans' abilities to be both insulting and polite. Bless your heart!

  48. Charles
    Gates Horns

    To those who think this has been used before...

    What's being patented is actually something rather novel. It *is* an auto-censoring technology, yes, but not for text, but rather for sound. And unlike the system used in mass media, it does not normally require human intervention. It employs speech recognition to determine what a person is saying, and if the odds are good (enough) that the word it heard was verboten, it then alters the soundwave of the word to censor it--realtime, with only a slight delay for processing rather than the seven-second delay used with human operators.

  49. cybersaur
    Thumb Down


    Sounds like some of the features of Windows 7 are beginning to leak out. No doubt it will run at startup and cannot be uninstalled. I'll bet it has a snazzy 3-D interface and consumes 2GB of RAM too!

    Thumbs down to automated censorship. Go [CENSORED] yourselves, Microsoft!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Let them censor that!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Alan Esworthy

    Aw shucks, I'm embarrassed but I have a rather thick skin so the insult was somewhat wasted. Nice try but you only get a could do better.

  52. J-Wick

    @Robert Ramsay

    I think they did the "Dick van Dyke" joke on Family Guy.. 'And now, back to the <beep> van <beep> show...."

    May have been on another show - South Park or American Dad...

  53. Cyfaill

    Silly rabbit, this is for Steveo

    I think that this was going to be a little box to have Steveo wear.

    Unfortunately the prototype was crushed under a chair because he was having some minor difficulty expressing his true feelings and got frustrated.

  54. Moz

    Living in the [bleep]tree

    Reminds me of a story from the Aussie parliament. One of the MPs from the bush was making a speech...

    MP: I am a country member...

    Opposition: Yeah. We remember...

  55. Chris Seiter

    @ interesting

    Snake? Snake?!? Snaaaaaaaaake!!

    Mine's the one with the "Pliskin" dog tags.

  56. yeah, right.

    bofh was there

    I wonder if they'll have the "Drunken Scotsman" version out soon then?

  57. Martin Penny

    Verbal Morality?

    "You are fined one credit for a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute."


  58. Wortel

    Ha ha! dangly parts

    Who here was reminded of the revenge scene on Bruce Allmighty?

  59. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    Yay! Popular culture!

    1) The LaLiLuLeLo can be found somewhere in here:

    2) "Philip K Masculine Area" They should have used Phil's own pseudonym, "Horselover Fat"

    3) This hot, new,innovative Microsoft brainfart will certainly be endorsed by all of those who must not pronounce the name JEHOVA. Any other useful application? I don't think so.

  60. Charles Manning

    Patent is easy, engineering is not

    Anyone remember how crap the MS voice recognition really is?

    With that solid foundation I can't see much utility.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Philip K. Masculine Area is pretty funny... but isn't quite as good as the Matsupoopa DVD ROM people talk about in some heavily censored forums...

    What's even funnier than THAT is when pet forums force owners of small dogs to discuss their poopzus. Oops.

  62. sauerkraut
    Thumb Up

    wishlist for x-mas

    beep out "microsoft", "windows" and "office" (if "microsoft" comes in front of it), "vista" (following "windows"), "gates", "ballmer".......... the list would be long!

    add some voice regoc and beep out every single word said by gates and ballmer (except "developer")

  63. Cortland Richmond

    Really unspeakable

    From unspeakable to inaudible in two clock cycles. Next, the brainwave sensing inthinkerator.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    Ted Dziuba

    El Reg have got one of these devices already.

    The trouble is the techies installed it on a Friday afternoon after a tough lunchtime in the pub and put it in the wrong way round, with the result that it's randomly *adding* loads of big-and-clever words to everything fed through it.

    Which at least explains where Ted Dziuba's 'Fail and **** You' articles come from.

  65. Jeff Rowse

    What the [EXPLETIVE DELETED] next?

    Anyone else remembering the scenes with Pinback's diaries aboard (John Carpenter's) DarkStar?

    Oh well, guess I'll just have to re-watch my Firefly DVDs and pick up some authentic(?) Mandarin(?) vocabulary... ain't that a shame!

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