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Windows XP Professional: The Missing Manual by L.J. Zacker, Craig Zacker, David Pogue

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Speech

This little program, new in Windows XP, lets you set up all the speech-related features of Windows.

Unfortunately, Windows XP doesn’t have any speech-related features.

Think of this program instead as the front end for the speech features of other software. For example:

Speech Recognition Tab

This tab isn’t even visible unless you’ve installed the limited speech-recognition feature of Microsoft Office XP. Use the controls here to retrain the system, configure the microphone, set the pronunciation sensitivity level, and so on.

Tip

In the end, if you decide that voice dictation is destined to be a productive part of your work regimen, you’d be well advised to invest in a far superior, more mature program like NaturallySpeaking. However, such programs don’t have anything to do with this control-panel program.

Text To Speech Tab

Here’s where you configure the voice of Windows—the robotic voice, called Microsoft Sam—that you hear any time Windows reads text aloud.

The catch here is that Windows never does read text aloud, except when you’re using Narrator (Section 7.1.1.4)—and Narrator has its own set of voice-selection controls. Microsoft Word XP can read text to you, however, and for that reason, you may be happy to know that you can specify Sam’s rate of speaking (or Michael’s, or Michelle’s) using this dialog box.

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