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

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.

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.

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