Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Micrsoft Windows Vista's Windows Speech Recognition: What Hasn't Been Said About the Voice Recognition Program

There was a fair amount of hype surrounding the Windows Speech Recognition that comes standard with Windows Vista. However, this quickly died after several tests gone wrong and poor reviews galore, broadcasted across the web and on multiple television channels.
People have grown addicted to posting YouTube videos criticizing Microsoft's speech recognition engine. We've seen them speak quite clearly into a decent microphone and watch random words pop up on the screen, time and again. Clearly, it sucks when speech recognition programs don't work and your boss asks you what you mean by "fast pendulum unholy compact unicycle".
But, clearly, we all know the advantages of speech recognition engines and uses of them when they're accurate.
And I'm here to tell you that Windows Vista's standard Windows Speech Recognition software works. If you're an Apple fanboy, you're probably pretty pissed off just at the fact that I complimented Microsoft. But it is true (and by the way, I don't really like Apple).
Of course, it is not 100% effective and doesn't work miracles. After all, it isn't ObamaWare, it's software from Microsoft and you know it's going to have its flaws. In addition to that, it's a free speech recognition software as long as you purchase Windows Vista. You don't hear the phrase "free speech recognition software" very often so be very grateful of Microsoft's contribution.
Obviously, if you want to go ahead and throw $300 at Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking, widely known as the best speech-to-text program out there, you can, and you will get results. But if you'd rather spend that $300 on something else, just stick with Microsoft's version.
An introduction of it for those who haven't tried it is that they'll run you through a training program that picks up your voice's characteristics for improved accuracy. This is after they do a quick configuration of your microphone. This training program will tell you all the little quirks and is incredibly easy to understand from a Microsoft thing. You can open applications, click on web links and of course type with full functionality with Windows Speech Recognition, something most other freeware can't brag about.
And then you're off and running: You say start listening to get it to start working and stop listening to get it to pause for a little while. It's pretty simple.
And as long as you're in a considerably quiet room you're good.
When you see all those videos showing the software's flaws, ignore them. They just have crappy microphones. Personally, I use a headset microphone, the "Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000", which works like a charm. But when I don't want to wear that, I find that a RocketFish desktop microphone is great too.
YouTube users who waste their time making dumb videos showcasing Microsoft's errors aren't the smartest people in our population. Don't listen to them. Windows Speech Recognition is fine. So I say, keep dictating (you'd understand if you had the program).


TechToolGuru said...
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TechToolGuru said...

I just tested it out for the first time and took the tutorial. I agree with you, it's pretty awesome for *free*!

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Bill said...

Yeah, it's a fine piece of software, all right. If you just speak words it does nothing. So if you want it to type "Hello" you have to say "Press capital h press e press l press l press o." And God help you if you have to make a correction.
You can get the basic Dragon for $50. Windows SR is worth far less than nothing.