Microsoft is well known for their operating system Windows, their Zune HD player, and the XBox, but did you know they’re making what’s called a “contextual thesaurus?” It works just like a thesaurus, but thesaurusizes entire sentences in one fell swoop.

It can be a useful tool for essay assignments. Let’s take a phrase, put it in the contextual thesaurus, and see what it spits out:

“We went to the store yesterday.”

  • We go to the shop last night.
  • We went into the shop last night.
  • We go to the shop last.
  • We went into the shop last.

Being made of several pieces of silicon strung together by copper wire, it’s not perfect, but as most of us have brains and can think for ourselves, the thesaurus is a useful step in improving our sentences.

But wait! It doesn’t just spit out plain text sentences, it generates a beautiful flow diagram putting the words in bubbles and connecting them with lines. To see it in action, let’s take the first sentence of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, and see it work its magic:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

(note, this is only part of the diagram)

Now, you can see all the different possibilities of rephrasing the sentence. You can even click on a path and it will change the “translation” for you!

This thesaurus is a tool that could help you greatly, if you know how to use it to its best. Go give it a try at, and while you’re there, check out the other great things that Microsoft is working on.

The contextual translator uses Microsoft Silverlight, which you can download here.

Published by Geoffrey Liu

A software engineer by trade and a classical musician at heart. Currently a software engineer at Groupon getting into iOS mobile development. Recently graduated from the University of Washington, with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Music. Web development has been my passion for many years. I am also greatly interested in UI/UX design, teaching, cooking, biking, and collecting posters.

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