If its performance during a demonstration last week at Microsoft's annual
Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM) is any indication, a voice-recognition feature
in Windows Vista is not quite ready for prime time.
An interactive voice response (IVR) system in Vista that is supposed to allow a
user to dictate text into a Microsoft Word document did not work as expected at
the event last. It failed to correctly recognize what the Microsoft
team member was saying on several occasions, the results inspiring laughter
from the crowd of analysts and journalists attending the day-long meeting.
When the Microsoft employee told the software to type, "Dear mom," it typed
"Dear aunt" instead. When he told the software to "fix aunt," it typed "let's
set" instead, and then failed to respond to several prompts of "delete that" in
an effort to fix the error. The software experienced several other glitches
before the demonstration ended.
Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Kirkland, Washington, research firm Directions on
Microsoft, said he was "surprised" Microsoft would demonstrate the IVR
feature of Vista at FAM. "It's not something they made a big deal about, and
not something we're following as a big reason to upgrade to Vista," he said.
"If it had worked perfectly, it would have been great. Unfortunately, it didn't
work out that way."
Rosoff said the feature is the result of new voice-recognition APIs
(application programming interfaces) Microsoft is building into Vista that will
allow users to dictate instead of type content into Office applications such as
Word and PowerPoint.
Microsoft's public relations firm said Monday that the company would not
comment on the failed demo.
IVR is just one of a host of enhancements that will be available in Windows
Vista, which Microsoft executives said at FAM is still on track to be available
to business customers in November, and consumers in January 2007. However, the
company seemed to hint that Vista's release could slip again, as Kevin Johnson,
co-president of Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division, said at the meeting
that the OS will not ship until "it's ready," even if that means it does not
meet the current targets for release.