Speech Language Support in Windows Vista

In my earlier post about how to download and install SR languages for Vista, I somehow neglected to mention what languages are supported.  Not surprisingly, we got some questions about this.

Q: What languages is Windows Speech Recognition available in?

A: For Speech Recognition, this info is available on the page on www.microsoft.com that talks about the feature: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/speechrecognition.mspx.  It says “Windows Speech Recognition is available in English (U.S.), English (U.K.), German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified).”  It is not possible to extend this support in Vista.  If you have a recognizer for another language, you can use it in other applications, but not in Windows Speech Recognition.

For TTS, Vista ships with US English and Chinese (Simplified) synthesizers.  The Narrator screen reader (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/features/details/accessibility.mspx#narrator) does support other languages and other engines.

So, you might ask, why the difference?  Well, Windows Speech Recognition includes lots of grammars that have to be localized into each language.  Localizing the grammars is reasonably difficult, and will result in errors that need to be found through testing the integrated system.  Since we didn’t have engines in languages other than those mentioned above, we had no way to find and fix issues and verify that grammars in other languages were correct.  Without being able to test, we can’t ship, and without being able to ship there is no point in going through the effort in the first place.

Narrator, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything complex that needs localizing, just strings.  Localizing strings is part of the standard Windows localization process, so Narrator can support any language you have a TTS engine in.

Comments (5)

  1. ZippyV says:

    How come the TTS narrators of Microsoft have such a disgusting voice?

    If it’s much simpler to create a TTS engine for a language then why does Vista ship with only 2 synthesizers?

  2. LiveGadgets says:

    Today I released version 2 of the popular Say It! gadget. It extends Vista’s built in text-to-speech technology to the Sidebar.

    Some of the nre features include the ability to change volume, rate and voice.

    Check it out at: http://www.livegadgets.net/sidebar/sayit

  3. Decalogy says:

    How can I know is it possible to have a Narrator on latvian language, or it’s not??? i just can’t find this information anywhere.. :(

  4. SAD SPEAKER says:

    It is now 2011 and still no Spanish voice for Vista or Windows 7!!!!!!

  5. character encoding says:

    This is notcompletely true. I've an englishverion of windows 7. I'm stuck with that because I have to upgrade to ultimate or buy another copy of windows to switch to bulgarian whichis very bad MS politic IMO.

    Anyways, I have a bulgarian SAPI5 voice and I can tell narrator to use it. But when narrator tries to speak non-latin characters it speaks non-sense like it uses a wrong character encoding. Other SAPI5 programs speak with that voice fine. Is there a way to forse some encoding for narrator?