See All Voice Recognition Software

Windows Speech Recognition

Free with Windows Vista, Windows 7 & 8
Reviewed
June 2013
by ConsumerSearch

Pros
  • Free
  • Great support
Cons
  • Steep learning curve
  • Performance can't match Dragon products
  • Cannot be purchased separately

Bottom Line

The best thing about Windows Speech Recognition is that if you use Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can try it out at no cost. If it meets your needs, you're all set. If it doesn't, no harm done, and you can move on to something else. Though Windows Speech Recognition isn't as feature-laden as Dragon, it's still better than nothing.

Ease Of Use

Relatively easy to use. Windows Speech Recognition isn't difficult to learn, but you will need to take a run through a training tutorial to get the knack. The tutorial lacks visuals and illustrations, making it less-than-engaging. But the learning curve is less than with other, more robust, speech-recognition software brands. It may be just the ticket for those in a pinch who need to be off their keyboards for an extended period.

Performance

Clunky and quirky. If you are setting out to write the Great American Novel, Windows Speech Recognition is decidedly not for you. Reviewers and users found it difficult to dictate long chunks of words without running into lots of recognition errors, and unlike other third party applications, there are no convenient popup menus that allow you to make corrections as you go. There are a lot of extra steps involved.

You'll need to buy a good microphone to have any success. Since Windows Speech Recognition is bundled with Windows operating software, this is not included. The better the microphone you use with any speech recognition technology, the better your results will be. And as with similar software applications, the more you use it, the more attuned to your voice and speech patterns it becomes, to the point of being able to anticipate what you are going to say.

Features

Basic features. Though reviewers tended to be surprised by the available features, including voice commands, dictation, and the ability to navigate the web and other applications, there are still not as many options as with a third party application. But for free, who is complaining? Users did have some issues with editing tools, which they say can be awkward to use.

Our Sources

1. Arstechnica.com

ArsTechnica.com looks at Windows Speech Recognition for Windows 7, comparing it to Dragon's NaturallySpeaking series. Nate Anderson says that while Windows Speech Recognition has its merits, it's not likely to catch on until it is just as good or better than Dragon, maybe in a newer release.

Review: Win 7's Built-in Speech Recognition: a Review, Nate Anderson, May 31, 2010

2. Bella Online

PC Advice Editor Allison Nunn tries out Windows Speech Recognition, but she does not compare it directly to other voice-recognition software. She found it to be prone to errors, though she admittedly had not practiced with it extensively.

Review: Windows 7 Speech Recognition Review, Allison Nunn, Not dated

3. ColdFusionBeyond.com

Software engineer Summer S. Wilson, an experienced user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium and other speech recognition software, tested Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium against Windows 7 Speech Recognition. She found Windows 7 Speech Recognition to be much "clunkier" than Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium.

Review: Dragon NaturallySpeaking vs Windows 7 Speech Recognition, Summer S. Wilson, Jan. 11, 2013

4. TopTenReviews.com

TopTenReviews.com stacks Windows Speech Recognition up against other standalone voice-recognition software products and finds it to be similar in features and performance.

Review: Got Vista? Voice Recognition Is Built In, Lecia Monsen, Not dated

5. Yahoo.com

This author compares Windows 7 Speech Recognition to Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium. Though he likes the Windows program, it's not as accurate or easy to use as Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium.

Review: Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 11 Vs Microsoft Windows 7 Speech Recognition: Finally We Can Talk Back to Our Computers, William Ehrendreich, Feb. 23, 2011

6. PC World

Martin Heller did a quick review of Windows 7 Speech Recognition after suffering a wrist injury. He went in without high expectations, and he found it to be satisfactory.

Review: Windows 7 Speech Recognition: Say What?, Martin Heller, Oct. 18, 2009

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