In the April 24 edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I wrote about the Tablet PC form factor. I was particularly enthusiastic about voice-input technology. I wrote, "Speech-recognition technology is built into Windows XP, but it's rarely used on conventional notebook and desktop PCs."

That statement prompted queries from several readers who wanted to know how to get speech input working in XP. After some research, I found out why speech-recognition technology is rarely used: Microsoft built support for the Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) into the OS but didn't provide a UI for it. To get speech input working on XP, you have three choices: - Buy Microsoft Office XP, which includes speech support and the necessary UI. - Buy the Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP package ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/plus ), which also includes a speech UI. - Download the Speech SDK 5.1 for Windows package ( http://www.microsoft.com/speech/download/sdk51 ), which runs on both XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later and Windows 2000 Professional. This option is the only one that doesn't require you to shell out any extra money. However, it's not a supported product. Microsoft also has a Microsoft .NET Speech SDK in beta that appears to be aimed at voice-enabled .NET service applications. I'm not sure whether it would also provide a simple UI for dictation on the desktop, but it might be worth a look. http://www.microsoft.com/speech

In the April 24 edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I wrote about the Tablet PC form factor. I was particularly enthusiastic about voice-input technology. I wrote, "Speech-recognition technology is built into Windows XP, but it's rarely used on conventional notebook and desktop PCs."

That statement prompted queries from several readers who wanted to know how to get speech input working in XP. After some research, I found out why speech-recognition technology is rarely used: Microsoft built support for the Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) into the OS but didn't provide a UI for it. To get speech input working on XP, you have three choices: - Buy Microsoft Office XP, which includes speech support and the necessary UI. - Buy the Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP package ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/plus ), which also includes a speech UI. - Download the Speech SDK 5.1 for Windows package ( http://www.microsoft.com/speech/download/sdk51 ), which runs on both XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later and Windows 2000 Professional. This option is the only one that doesn't require you to shell out any extra money. However, it's not a supported product. Microsoft also has a Microsoft .NET Speech SDK in beta that appears to be aimed at voice-enabled .NET service applications. I'm not sure whether it would also provide a simple UI for dictation on the desktop, but it might be worth a look. http://www.microsoft.com/speech