Microsoft Maren: A New Windows Arabic Transliteration Tool

| Jul 1, 2009 | comment 19 Comments

Microsoft MarenMicrosoft has gone on and launched a new application called ‘Maren‘, making its entrance into the Arabic transliteration space.

Microsoft Maren was developed to be a Windows extension that allows you to type Arabic in Roman characters (Romanized Arabic, Arabizi, Arabish or Franco-Arabic) and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script. Maren integrates seamlessly with Windows and works in most Windows applications and websites.

Users around the Arab world widely use romanized Arabic in instant messaging and on social networking sites, and Microsoft’s Maren is following in the footsteps of Yamli and Google’s Ta3reeb in offering these users the possibility to have whatever text they type converted into Arabic.

Up to this point Yamli has been the user favorite in the region, with a number of portals integrating their service, a Firefox toolbar extension that many people were glad to get and even an unofficial Yamli extension called Arabzi that exists for MSN Messenger. Yamli also uses its transliteration technology as a basis to enrich and provide better Arabic search online.

Microsoft MarenWhat Microsoft’s Maren offers as a plus is the possibility to integrate the transliteration technology into Windows, and use it everywhere, not just online through a browser; so basically users can use Maren while typing in a Word document or on Instant Messenger or any other Windows application.

The fact that the tool is installed on the user’s machine also means that the solution is available to the user even when he’s offline, and it could even be a bit faster than other solutions that have to send requests back to a server.

It should be really interesting to see how much user adoption Maren will get, but however that works out, this is quite a good effort from Microsoft.

Microsoft Maren was developed by the Cairo Microsoft Innovation Center (CMIC), a Microsoft group representing the company interest in applied research and development initiatives in the Middle East and Africa.

Microsoft Maren

Update: I talked to Habib Haddad, co-founder of Yamli, a bit after the publication of this story, and he commented “I guess big companies recognize a good idea when they see it, as an Arabic startup we are flattered to see this happen. As you know our focus has always been on the user so stay tuned for new releases from Yamli.”

  • Abdullah Arif

    Wow, Yamli has some catching-up to do. The Microsoft threat seems even more dire than Google, with all of its seamless system integration and all. If Yamli really wants to up its game, it should consider going open-source. From my experience, this type of technology almost always ends up open-sourced anyway, so Yamli should consider preempting.

    I have personally in fact considered creating an open-source Arabic transliteration tool in a multitude of scripting languages (PHP, Python, Ruby) with a publicly available database of transliteration hashes. If anyone interested, you may contact me via my website.

  • Habib Haddad

    Hey Abduallah, thanks for the support and tips … as you might know we focus mainly on two areas, typing and search. We are happy to have helped a number of sites to provide the typing technology for free and have recently released a FF plug in as well that includes Yamli typing search, FB and Twitter clients etc …

    That said, expect something soon from Yamli to solve the problems you mentioned, and in the meantime I thank you again for the support :)

  • Rajil

    I believe that is the only translateration and search engine to get it right. This site not only translaterate Latin to Arabic, it actually has a very powerfull autocomplete feature that reduces errors and speeds up writing and search. It is the closest to other search engines like Yahoo and Google. It is also the fastest arabic search engine out there. I love it.

    I was told that Ajnad is rolling out really neat features in the next few months.

    Did anyone out there try it?


  • Mamdoh S.

    أنا أحب أجناد كتير . سهل وسريع و مثير للفضول.

  • zeid

    I tried this ajnad thing .. and it wasn't efficient like yamli.

    For example i tried: “mashi” and got “ماسهي”.


  • Gaith

    ajand does not even work with firefox??

  • zeid

    yes it seems to be working only with IE7+ .. it didn't work with Chrome neither.

  • raed Adnan

    I tried , it is really good. I think it is way better than Yamli. Actually, one of its strengths, is its one-one intuitive mapping. To write mashi, you need to spell “m a s' e” which makes sense. So, one knows exactly what he/she writes. It does not give you a large enumeration of possibilities the way yamli does. It also has no flashing which is one of the bad things aout Yamli and Google.

    True, it works on IE only and that's an issue. IE has 65% market share and most non-technical users use IE. But what does it take to make it work on other browsers. If I were to people behind, it would be to port it to FireFox. How difficult can that be?

    I also noticed that it is much faster than Yamli for search. Probably 2-3 times faster!!!

    Who is behind ? anyne knows? They must be real smart to define a new approach to translaeration and quick search!

    Overall, I would rate ajand, Yamli, and Goole on a scale of 1-10 as the following:

    Ajnad 9/10
    Yamli 5/10
    Google ta3reeb 3/10


  • jaber j.

    لويش الجدل . أي واحد يعمل مثل يملي -شوية جافاسكريبت –
    بس أجناد فيها فن كثير و وإبداع. جوجل ما فيها شي. أنا أعطي أجناد ١٠ من ١٠

  • Mohamed Marwen Meddah

    Just wanted to drop in a little comment to the people/person who have been bringing up Ajnad here and on other stories talking about Yamli; please do not come in here and post different comments under different names just to try and promote Ajnad or any other startup for that matter; I can see your IP addresses and I know when it's the same person.

    You are more than welcome to submit your project for review using the submission form, which in the case of Ajnad you have done, always using the same IP address. And your startup will be looked at and considered for review just like everyone else.

    Unfortunately, I'll have to mark any future comments of this kind as spam.

    Thank you very much for your understanding.

  • Pingback: Microsoft Maren: A New Windows Arabic Transliteration Tool – StartUpArabia « euraktiva

  • Mamdoh S.

    You are mistaken.
    Mamdoh(myself) , Rajil , and Raed we all work for one company (Sears Corp in the USA- a company that employes tens of thousands of people). You may see one IP address because there is only one external IP for every one in Sears.

    We live in the USA and we are thirsty for a way to write in arabic. We did not like Yamli initially. But we loved Ajnad and decided to spread the word.

    I tried to contact the people behind ajnad so that they spread the word about their product but no contact info is listed on their website. Actually, it looks like no information is listed on period and the submit feedback form is not working either. So, we took it upon ourselves to spread the word. It is as if they don't care!

    Any way, feel free to not post any of our comments. We will stop contributing to your blog. Good luck.

  • Ahmad

    Does this mark the end of Yamli and Ta3reeb? I mean, who needs a web based thing when it's built into your OS?

    Yamli as a search engine? I don't know…. tell me of one successful search engine that doesn't own it's own “search engine”. And even if we think that it will compete, then all Google and MSN have to do is let their engines recognize arabeezee.

    I think microsoft just pulled a good one (surprisingly).

  • Elie

    Still waiting for the Yamli app! Yamli has been doing it way better and smarter.

  • Nadim

    Yamli should actually be proud, they have created a market that now is seeked by all the big companies…
    I still use yamli for my arabic searches, its just more accurate and gives back more results, still good to see big players looking at the arab world

  • Nadim

    Yamli should be also proud of having the most accurate transliteration service out there, that is why they will continue to attract the majority of users and lead the market

  • Ehab

    I do not agree, Yamli and Ta3reeb do not need installation, and do not need windows, this is a ood advantage for them

  • Ehab

    I do not agree, Yamli and Ta3reeb do not need installation, and do not need windows, this is a ood advantage for them

  • Pingback: Yamli, Google Ta3reeb and now Microsoft Maren. What is the point exactly??! - 360east | design, media, technology

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