Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system comes with integrated speech recognition software. This allows users to perform standard tasks without using their keyboard, including writing emails.
Those who find the hands-free life enjoyable may want to consider more comprehensive specialist software, however.
Kolokythas Panagiotis has already spent some time talking to his computer: "When I'm not in the mood to click on the Start button with the mouse and look for the program, I just say 'Open Word' or 'Write Mail,' explains the editor from Munich-based PC Welt magazine. Users must first complete a one-hour acclimation programme before the computer can understand commands. Vista also runs a piece of software in the background to handle speech recognition tasks.
Vista's speech recognition works relatively reliably, the experts claim. It is not really suited to professional users, however, meaning that users who frequently dictate texts as part of the working day are better served with special applications.
For one, higher-end software requires no break-in time, as the "software secretaries" come ready to handle various voices and dialects.