Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Talking Tech 21/1/2014 - Window-Eyes offer for owners of Microsoft Office

Before I get in to talking about Window-Eyes, I got a nice surprise yesterday, my book iSee made it in to What’s Hot in the Australian iTunes Store.


Ok, back to Window-Eyes.


Last week, GW Micro in collaboration with Microsoft announced that their screen reader (Window-Eyes) will now be available for free for owners of Microsoft office 2010 and above:




This really did catch the AT industry by surprise.  It will certainly cause Freedom Scientific to perhaps think their position of how much JAWS For Windows continues to cost.


With Window-Eyes For Microsoft Office, your getting a thousand dollar screen reader for free, and even if you have to buy a license of Microsoft Office, you still come out on top.


It seems to me, that Microsoft is in the process of using 3rd party technology to make their products more accessible. For instance, Code Factory recently announced Mobile Speak for Windows Phone.  However, giving people the opportunity to use a fully featured screen reader for free, is tremendous, particularly for people who are blind who don’t have the funds to purchase a screen reader for home, education or employment.  Mind you, using existing expertise is a great thing anyway, why re-event the wheel when you don’t have to.



Main features of the free Window-Eyes for Office include:

1. Free downloadable version.  Free Cd version can be purchased.

2. Supports Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.  Does not support Windows RT, and whilst you can run it on a Surface pro, remember that Window-Eyes does not support touch screens at the moment.

3. Compatible with Microsoft Office 2010/2013, and Microsoft Office 365 when the local client is installed.  Without a valid Microsoft Office license, will run in 30 demo mode.  Window-Eyes will detect automatically if there is a valid office license on your machine.

4. Comes with the eSpeak synthesiser, and works with the Microsoft built-in synthesiser.  Additional voices can be purchased.

5. Window-Eyes supports Multiple languages.

6. No CD or Braille/large print keystroke guides.  All can be purchased for a fee.

7. Installation support is free.  Continuing support can be paid by incident for $25 or 12 incidents for 99 dollars.

8. Upgrades via  download.  Upgrade CD can be purchased.

9. Can not install the retail version on the same machine.

10 If you use GW Connect (Skype client from GW Micro), you will still get the ads. 


To download the Window-Eyes for Office, go to:




choose your language, and activate the Download Now button.  Once downloaded, run the install program, follow the talking instructions, and off you go (at least in theory). When I tried to install on two machines, I kept getting a driver error, and my machine rebooting.  Will be following this up with GW Micro.  The other two folks on the AT Help Desk at Vision Australia I should say had no trouble installing the free version.

Note - with some assistance from the other AT Help Desk folks, was able to by-pass the problem, which we think is the install program trying to install MS Speech for the talking install.


If you wish to read the Window-eyes manual, go to:





A good coverage of the announcement was done by the Assistive Technology Update for January 17 2014.  Subscribe to their feed at:




For more information or support, email:

sales@gwmicro.com, support@gwmicro.com or contact your local dealer.


You can also follow them on Twitter:




The local dealer in Australia is Humanware, but I would encourage you to go directly to GW Micro for support.


And no, it doesn’t work on Mac OS X (smile).


Audio Player page for Talking Tech Jan 14 from my iSee Podcast blog

 The following link will play the program directly.



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