[BCAB] Reflections on Window-Eyes so far

David W Wood david.g3yxx at googlemail.com
Wed Feb 26 09:24:08 GMT 2014


I have been looking at your comments over the last week as I am undertaking
the same process for equivalent reasons, having dabbled in W E some 3-4
years ago.

I found the installation process very straight forward, and find form
filling on the web easier than JFW.

The shortcut key ins+ctrl+f4 shuts down W E.

Most functions I have found from turning on keyboard help or by cruising
through the W E menu system.
This would have been made easier had I found the ins+backslash combination

My annoyance is that when using Outlook, I can't find a way to shut off
speaking of punctuation.


David W Wood 

-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of David
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:47 AM
To: BCAB Discussion List
Subject: [BCAB] Reflections on Window-Eyes so far

For the last week I have been trying to learn how to use Window-Eyes.
Although a long term Jaws User the case for transferring, in the long term,
from Window-Eyes to Jaws is overwhelming now. The economics of maintaining
Jaws updates ceases to be viable against the current Microsoft/GW Micro

Here are some initial reflections. In no sense have I learnt Window-Eyes to
the same extent as which I know Jaws and some of the annoyances I encounter
. are surmountable with  greater knowledge of the product. I mention some of
them here in case others  have the same issues.

1. Installation. 
I had a difficult installation process. I inadvertently used Quick Install
for Window-Eyes. Analysing this retrospectively this happened because  I
instinctively, from habit, used the Jaws command insert  B to read a
dialogue box during the install. Instead of reading the dialogue box this
sent  a bypass command  to Window Eyes at the critical stage and I obviously
executed a quick install by mistake. I therefore had Jaws 14 and Window Eyes
starting simultaneously and my system was virtually unusable. Now I know
that in this situation you simply use control backslash to bring up the
Window Eyes control panel. Pressing alt F4 will then close Window-Eyes. Now
you can close Jaws with the normal insert-/F4 command. Press Command D to go
to the desktop and press control alt and W to restart Window-Eyes on its
own. In theory you should not have to go to the desktop with window D but in
practice I found this the most reliable area for a Window-Eyes start-up.
Now in the control panel there is a Windows-Help like navigable set of
options where you can set the start up options to what you desire.

2. Voices install. For me the addition of Eloquence was essential for
Window-Eyes usage. This may relate to my hearing impairment. The good news
is that these only cost £25  from Computer room services.  The bad news is
that I found the installation of voices confusing and I hope in future
incarnations GW-Micro simplify and smooth this process. There are 5 steps as
far as I can see.
1. Register your copy of Office Window-Eyes. GW Micro will eventually send
you an email confirming this registration and eligibility for upgrade ,
though in my case this took several days.
2. Buy the voices from Computer Room Services. I did not find the Voices
from an initial search of the site but Steve Knutt can send you a link to
the necessary section
3. You will, after about 24 hours ,get an email from GW-Micro telling you
that you now have a proper serial number  and can authorise  Window Eyes.
You follow a link to download  an authorisation file which will then
authorise your Window Eyes for upgrade.
4. What you do next was not clear from the GW Micro communications which
gave no instructions on what to do after running the authorisation.   ... I
investigated and went to Window-Eyes Control Centre and  selected the Get
more voices option from the help menu again. This took me to a web site
where I had to download and then run yet another authorisation  file, this
time for speech synthetis. After running this there was again no instruction
on what to do. Running the Get more Voices option from the control panel yet
again took you to a page where the only option was to download vocaliser
5. What I eventually discovered is that Eloquence, and some other voices,
are already installed in Window-Eyes office and that you do not need to
download the voices but simply enable them in the speech synthetis section
of the WE control  panel. This could have been made a lot clearer in the
GW-Micro transaction. For example all they need to do is put a note to this
effect on their Get More Voices Download page to avoid future confusion.

General comments    Window Eyes Interface.
This email would get too long if I commented on all areas of Window Eyes so
I will comment on the three most striking initial areas . 

Cursor / Screen reading Management..
On first usage the Cursoring options in Window Eyes are more logical and
effective than Jaws. The use of the WE Cursor is far more intuitively set
out than the Jaws Cursor options.  I am particularly impressed by ability to
search the screen for text whilst in the WE Cursor mode. As far as I am
aware Jaws does not have this handy feature but please let me know if I am
wrong. In any case well done to GW Micro for designing well a part of this
screen reading tool kit which I think many Jaws users are inhibited from
using because it is more complicated on that application.

Office functions. 
So far Window-Eyes appears a perfectly viable alternative to Jaws in terms
of Office support. There are a few glitches. On Outlook 2010 there is a
conflict between the read to end command and the reply  to all command, but
there are workaround for that. I can see a future  where Window-Eyes could
be my standard screen reading tool for Office usage and I have no current
major anxieties on that score.
The Web. 
This is the major fly in the ointment so far for my Window Eyes usage. I am
using the latest version of Internet Explorer 11 on a machine with 16 Gb of
ram, virgin broadband and reasonable processor strength. The WE virtual
buffer crawls. Pages which load almost instantly with Jaws or NVDA
unfortunately  hang in suspense for several seconds whilst Window-Eyes tries
to catch up.  Google searches become frustratingly slow affairs with the web
page not responding and often crashing. As far as I can see the actual
toolkit of web commands that Window Eyes provides would be adequate, though
be aware that it is not an good idea to use the insert key layout offered by
WE for Jaws users transitioning to the product as this will cripple the
functionality of at least one crucial web command in WE, insert tab for page

Unfortunately  I am inhibited from exploring WE on the web more as it seems
to crash Internet Explorer 11 frequently. Already 2 automated reports have
gone from my system to GW Micro so presumably they are aware of this
I would have serious issues on relying on Window Eyes on the web With the
current problem of poor responsiveness . It may be that this is a problem
restricted to my machine but it does seem odd that none of these problems
occur if I load  either NVDA or Jaws

As long as NVDA provide an alternative web browsing option to Window Eyes
the problem is not so acute. I do have anxieties in the longer term as to
the future of NVDA though with the Microsoft/Window Eyes partnership. I
heard an interview with the developers in which they said that if a free
reading option was developed by Microsoft which  provided comprehensive
support they would withdraw development.

So in summary GW Micro, well done for Office usage but a lot of work to do
on the web I think. I would be very concerned if the only option on the web
was WE.


David Griffith

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