Skip to main content

Microsoft Garage releases Dictate, letting you talk to your Office apps

Dictate, a Microsoft Garage project
Microsoft Windows 10 is chock full of ways to input information. There is the keyboard, of course, which comes in both physical and software versions. Then there’s Windows 10 Ink, which provides solid handwriting recognition to go along with its excellent drawing capabilities. Another important input mechanism, particularly for anyone with a physical challenge, is voice input. Speaking your words to a PC can be a liberating experience for some people, and while Windows has always had a form of dictation built in, Microsoft Garage has another option in Microsoft Dictate.

Dictate is built on the same voice-recognition technology that powers Microsoft Translator and other products and services build on Microsoft Cognitive Services. That means that it benefits from Microsoft’s industry-leading research into using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve a computer’s ability to understand spoken languages.

Microsoft Dictate works just like a number of other voice-recognition solutions, such as Nuance’s Dragon Dictate. It is a little different from some in that it is specifically an Office add-in, meaning it works with the desktop version of Office. You need to download the right version, either 32-bit or 64-bit, and then run through the installation process.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you install the add-in, it will be available in Office apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You then have another menu option available dubbed “Dictation,” and selecting that lets you start and stop dictation. While dictation is running, you have access to a number of commands, including:

  • New Line: Takes cursor to new line
  • Delete: Removes the last line you dictated
  • Stop Dictation: Terminates the dictation session
  • Full stop or period: Types period character (.)
  • Question mark: Types (?)
  • Open Quote: Types (“)
  • Close Quote: Types (”)
  • Colon: Types (:)
  • Comma: Types (,)

In addition, Dictate supports more than 20 languages for the dictation process itself and it can provide real-time translation between 60 languages. English language support includes both automatic and manual punctuation, and the system provides for real-time visual feedback showing that speech is being processed.

If you have been looking for a good way to speak to your Windows PC using your Office apps, then Dictate might be a great solution. Keep in mind that Microsoft Garage products don’t always last forever, however, and so it is entirely possible that Microsoft could kill the project.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
This Bing flaw let hackers change search results and steal your files
The new Bing preview screen appears on a Surface Laptop Studio.

A security researcher was recently able to change the top results in Microsoft’s Bing search engine and access any user’s private files, potentially putting millions of users at risk -- and all it took was logging into an unsecured web page.

The exploit was discovered by researcher Hillai Ben-Sasson at their team at Wiz, a cloud security firm. According to Ben-Sasson, it would not only allow an attacker to change Bing search results but would also grant them access to millions of users’ private files and data.

Read more
This new Microsoft Bing Chat feature lets you change its behavior
The new Bing chat preview can be seen even on a MacBook.

Microsoft continues updating Bing Chat to address issues and improve the bot. The latest update adds a feature that might make Bing Chat easier to talk to -- and based on some recent reports, it could certainly come in handy.

Starting now, users will be able to toggle between different tones for Bing Chat's responses. Will that help the bot avoid spiraling into unhinged conversations?

Read more
Check your inbox — Microsoft just sent out the first wave of ChatGPT Bing invites
Bing copilot AI chat interface.

Microsoft's revamped ChatGPT-powered Bing search engine is here, and the first wave of invites is already out. After previewing the new search engine last week, Microsoft set up a waitlist for the first wave of ChatGPT Bing testers. If you signed up, check your email to see if Microsoft has granted you access.

According to Microsoft, more than 1 million people signed up to get an early preview of the ChatGPT-powered Bing, and for good reason. When we tested the new search engine at Microsoft's headquarters, it proved itself extremely useful immediately (despite a few rough edges).

Read more