Microsoft to replace Windows Speech Recognition with Voice Access

AH Windows 11 Voice Access

Microsoft is sunsetting Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) and replacing it with Voice Access. The change has been on the cards since last year, but the company has now indicated the timeline. Microsoft has announced that it will transition Windows 11’s speech recognition to the new Voice Access platform later this year. The new system is better than WSR, however, Windows 10 users will have to make some tough choices.

Only Microsoft Windows 11 22H2 and later versions get Voice Access

Microsoft has been steadily scaling back access to Windows Speech Recognition. However, the company’s motives weren’t clear, until this week. Microsoft has confirmed that the new Voice Access app will entirely replace the WSR app. The change will take place in Windows 11 22H2 and newer versions. The WSR app should cease to be available in September 2024, according to a new Support Document:

“Windows 11 22H2 and later, Windows Speech Recognition (WSR) will be replaced by voice access starting in September 2024.” Microsoft has made it clear that it will keep WSR operational on Windows 11 21H2. What this also means is that Windows 10 users will have to continue relying on the deprecated platform.

Incidentally, the Voice Access app is exclusive to Windows 11. Hence, Windows 10 loyalists will have to decide to upgrade to Windows 11 if they wish to use Voice Access. Windows 10 will reach its end of support on October 14, 2025. In other words, Windows 10 users do not have much time to stick to the OS before upgrading to Windows 11.

Why Is Microsoft Retiring WSR?

Microsoft has been prioritizing Voice Access over WSR for quite some time. While Voice Access and WSR appear on the same Accessibility settings page inside the Windows 11 Settings app, the latter appears under the ‘Other voice commands’ section. Microsoft has been warning WSR users that support for the platform is ending. As the company has already confirmed the deprecation of WSR, the platform won’t be getting any new features or updates.

Currently, WSR has an edge over Voice Access because it supports far more languages. However, that’s where its superiority ends. WSR has always had trouble understanding the English language and the simplest of phrases or commands. Several users reported they turned WSR off after unsuccessfully using it to compose emails.

Voice Access, on the other hand, is backed by AI, which is increasingly evolving into Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). AI has a far better understanding of how humans interact and understand each other. Additionally, Microsoft has been actively adding languages to Voice Access. Besides supporting regional dialects of English, Voice Access now supports French German, and Spanish from multiple locales.

While Microsoft will continue improving Voice Access, the company is also integrating Copilot deeper inside Windows 11. When used together, Windows 11 users would gradually be able to control or change OS settings without ever opening the Settings app.

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