Throughout my career at Microsoft, I’ve eagerly participated in mailing lists, newsgroups, and web forums to engage customers and learn more about their needs and foster direct communication.
One of the better forums for speech recognition is run by Professor Itamar Even-Zohar of Tel Aviv University, where he teaches Culture Research. Itamar has been a long time user of speech recognition and vocal in feedback regarding Windows Speech Recognition. His web site on speech recognition contains useful information on WSR and speech recognition included in Office XP and Office 2003. In particular, his ms-speech forum is invaluable.
Recently when David Pogue of the New York Times wrote about the newest version of NaturallySpeaking, Itamar was quick to write David and set him straight on a few matters, including a plug about Windows Speech Recognition Macros!
David wrote of Itamar, "Clearly, I’ve unearthed the world’s leading authority on speech-recognition foreign-language versions,"
If you read the links I’m providing, you’ll see that Professor Even-Zohar is not enamored of all that we do. He’s critical of several aspects of WSR and while he "gets it" regarding WSR Macros, he’s quick to point out flaws and features.
It’s users like this that we need more of; people who are highly experienced and unafraid to share their opinions. The information provided is valuable to me and the rest of the product teams. On the flip side, we have to be careful regarding users expectations. Bending our ear doesn’t mean you’ll get whatever feature you asked for, and within a particular timeframe.
Oftentimes we’ll have more features than time or people available. We have to be very choosy about where to spend our resources. Even things that are a number #1 priority sometimes have to take a backseat to a lesser feature because it was one that we could do in the time or resources available.
Having the feedback from experienced users though help us make the most of the resources we have. We can prioritize better and have confidence that what we’re doing will have the greatest impact.