Microsoft Kills Off Beloved Language Portal

Microsoft Language Portal

Less than four years after Google shelved its Translator Toolkit, in 2019, Microsoft has announced that it will shut down its online language portal.

At its core, the Microsoft Language Portal is a multilingual online dictionary of computer-related terms. It also features free downloads of localization style guides and translations of user interface text. Originally created for internal use, it was made public in 2009

Available in “nearly 100 languages,” Microsoft does note that “the number of terms will differ from language to language due to varying levels of localization.”

According to the announcement banner on the language portal homepage, users can still download the existing terminologies in dozens of languages until June 30, 2023, after which point no further updates are expected. 

Beginning July 1, 2023, international style guides can be accessed via the Microsoft Learn Portal. But, as one observer tweeted, many portal users see the shift as the “end of an era.”

“HURRY UP,” language tech consultant Carlos la Orden Tovar urged colleagues in a LinkedIn post. “You can still download a term export TBX for your language(s) from the Download section in the portal.”

In an ironic twist, translators reported that the message announcing the portal’s discontinuation was displayed only when the portal was accessed with English settings.

Who Asked the Translators?

“I wonder if Microsoft will lose some of its normative power over this,” German IT translator Anja Neudert commented on LinkedIn. “How often have I been instructed to ‘when in doubt use [Microsoft] terminology.’”

Freelance Polish translator Katarzyna Rączka agreed that users often cite the portal as a “go-to reference for standard IT terminology.” She told Slator that a downloaded glossary without updates or UI strings will be a much more limited resource.

“After the change, [the UI strings] will only be available with a Visual Studio subscription, which I don’t need and wouldn’t be able to afford anyway,” she added.

Since April 12, 2023, translators have been discussing the news on a forum titled “Does anyone know what has happened to Microsoft Language Portal?”.

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“Their website takes ages to load now, and I get an error,” wrote a Portuguese translator on May 1, 2023. “I don’t think it’s right to discontinue a terminology portal like this one while so many users and translators like us make so much use of this tool.”

In a sign of the times, Danish-English translator Thomas T. Frost retorted, “Maybe we’re supposed to ask ChatGPT instead now.”

Slator contacted Microsoft for a comment but has not yet received a response as of press time.