Windows comes with a number of voices packaged in their Operating System that you can use for a plethora of tasks. Many programs use these voices, such as talking caller ID or document reading software. The voice engine converts text to speech making it very easy to incorporate into programs.
The problem with the default voices is that they don’t sound very good. This is a shame because there is so much that we could do with the voices if they did sound good. I was hoping that Vista would offer more in this area, but I was let down. This is one of the few things that I have appreciated about Macs over the years. They are a long way ahead in this area.
There are a number of free and commercial voices available that you can download and use as your default voice, thus making any text to speech functions a lot more practical and enjoyable.
While none of the voices are perfect, they are much better than the voices built into Windows. If you look into some of the commercial options available, the results can be really good.
Visit Bytecool to get your hands on 5 or so free voices. They also offer commercial options if you are that way inclined. After installing them, play around with them in the Speech applet of your Control Panel. While this is not going to benefit you in the short term, over the coming weeks we will look at some of the great things you can do with text to speech, and voice recognition.
Text to speech and speech to text will become much more popular in years to come. We already see the technology used in our phones, but why not use it to control household appliances, have our emails read to us while in the shower, or have documents converted to audio files so that you can listen to them on your way to work.
Thanks to Matthew for the tip.