UPDATE: Speech recognition in Windows 7 is workable; unlike XP and maybe Vista, the speech recognition tutorial teaches the MACHINE how your voice works. Skip that tutorial, and you'll tear your hair out. Do the tutorial, and you'll be surprised how fast the machine learns from you.
So think: you can cut onions while you tell the machine to open your browser and go to a website, looking up de vez en cuando
at the links, telling it what links to choose. You can thus download something without using your hands, have it go to Youtube and search or play a video you want to watch, etc. Or, you can be looking at back-and-forth at the machines. Or -- and this is a real issue for me -- say you share one wireless keyboard between two machines. To switch between them, you have to press the receiver on the other machine first, then the green buttons on mouse and keyboard (which sometimes doesn't cut off the first machine). So what if instead, one of the machines was speech enabled, so you can be working on one, and telling the other what to do?
I wish I had this feature when my arm was sprained so badly, it hung limp at my side. Sure, typing was therapy but it also prolonged healing time. The feature is still limited in many ways -- it gets confused -- but some things work well right outta da box. Like, telling it to open and close windows, load programs or browsers, click on links, etc.
Dictation is a bit glitchy, but over time the machine learns your speech pattern. The quality of your microphone also matters much. I used Logitech webcam mikes built into the cams, and Dell's built-in laptop webcams. So you'd expect some misunderstanding. It's far better than I thought, though. I only learned of it two days ago, only started using it in earnest yesterday on three Win7 machines. You set it up to turn on when Windows boots, and then it waits for you to say 'start listening'. There is a certain vocabulary to learn, but it's not hard. I downloaded Chrome this way, went to Youtube, dictated a comment to one of my viewers, went to Amazon and had it page through my shopping list, selecting which of the pages to use ('21-30' spoken with 'dash' or 'hyphen' makes the machine skip to that part of your list). Also made it create a grocery list and a computer to-do list in Wordpad. The Dell laptops worked remarkably well, but so did the Logitech-webcam mike for the Optiplex 780. Big surprise.
So three things make Win7 worth buying, though not worth giving up XP to get: 1) DVD writing, 2) Moviemaker 6.0 and Media Center, 3) Voice recognition. Thus the disadvantage of its schizoid file management in Explorer, is somewhat obviated. And the interface is useful, if you're willing to put up with only having one quick/launch taskbar. But again, you can just TELL the machine what program you want, like 'Open Wordpad', and it understands. Whew.
Now if only MS would have had the foresight to make the Speech Recognition program easy to pin to Start menu and taskbar. Alas, they do not give you an easy way to do that. You have to search for the program in All Programs, and find out which of the listings allows you to right-click and select Properties. Then, click on the button which takes you to the file location (I forget where that is in Properties), and in the location locate the program; then right click on the program and create shortcut.
That's not the end of it. A special command launches the program, not the exe file. So you have to look in Properties of the first version you found which allowed you to even SEE Properties, and COPY the command line and the 'Start In' line to the OTHER Properties for the shortcut you just created. Whew. Finally you have a shortcut you can pin to Start Menu or Desktop, or drag and drop to Quick Launch
This post has been edited by brainout: 25 January 2013 - 12:42 PM