Microsoft Dictate

This is interesting. Microsoft has released their new Text to Speech add-on for Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) called Dictate.

Which, according to the Project Website

Features

  • Supports more than 20 languages for dictation

  • Does real time translation to 60 languages

  • Commands like “new line”, “stop dictation” and “enter” to give more control while dictating

  • Two modes of punctuations: Auto and manual for English

  • Visual feedback to indicate that speech is being processed

So I gave it a download, and tried it out. As someone who has made good use of Dragon Naturally Speaking for dictation, I wanted to see how it compared.

So, how does it compare?

Well, to be honest, it’s nowhere near as good as Dragon, yet. Dragon does three major things that Dictate doesn’t do- 1) Dragon customizes itself to your voice so it gets better and better the more you use it, so the accuracy increases. (I see no indication Dictate does that, yet.) 2) Dragon also allows for voice command based editing for fixing issues without ever touching a mouse or keyboard, and is pretty good at it. Dictate doesn’t offer anything in that area. 3) Dragon allows you to add words to the dictionary and customize it, saving a lot of trouble.

So, Dictate is at this point only about 80% accurate and requires you to pay careful attention as you work.

On the other hand, Dictate is free, while Dragon will cost you $$$, so it’s a classic case of getting what you paid for. Personally, I’ll stick with Dragon, but for those who want a simple but fairly accurate and fast voice input for banging out rough drafts, this is probably a really good option. (Assuming you have MS Office, of course.)

Oh, and don’t plan to do any swearing using Dictate, since it turns any swearing to the first letter followed by asterisks, got that a******?

Rob