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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Microsoft announced it last week. There's a new transcribe function in Word. Word has had Dictation built in for a long time, but this is the first uploadable-audio option.



You can either voice-to-text live audio, or upload an audio file.



Then you can copy-paste portions of the transcription into your document, or paste the whole thing.



But I didn't see any indication in the review if the corrections you enter to the text are "learned" for your voice profile, etc.

Buyer beware,

A. You can only upload five hours of recordings per month (however if you record live, in Word on the web, there is no time limit to the recordings you can make);

B. Transcribe is only available on the online version of Word, and only to Microsoft 365 subscribers.

With those two limitations, I doubt it's yet a competitor to Dragon. Still, I'd be curious to know if anyone's tried it? Or if anyone with a subscription could try it?

Side note, the engine is Microsoft's Azure Cognitive Services AI. So there's a lot of room for accuracy improvement, since the AI should figure out over time how to make everyone's transcripts better. Privacy-wise, MS swears they don't archive the recordings when you are done copy-pasting text to your document; "Your audio files are sent to Microsoft, but only to provide you with a service; when the transcription is done, your audio and transcription results are not stored by our service at all. The audio file itself is stored in your own personal OneDrive."

Review is here:
https://thenextweb.com/basics/2020/08/25/use-microsoft-word-new-transcribe-tool
 

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I read about it yesterday and thought hmm. Just hmm, not HMM!

A few issues for me. I have 365 but I don't write in the browser and really have no intention of ever doing so. I also tried Dictation when I initially got 365 and was basically horrified at how bad it was--at the time. Maybe it's better. So I probably have a preconception that Transcribe will be just as bad.

I've had Dragon for about 8 years so I'm used to something that really is 99% correct. At least in my case. So MS would really need to wow me.

If someone does try this, I would love to hear what they think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ImaWriter said:
I read about it yesterday and thought hmm. Just hmm, not HMM!

A few issues for me. I have 365 but I don't write in the browser and really have no intention of ever doing so. I also tried Dictation when I initially got 365 and was basically horrified at how bad it was--at the time. Maybe it's better. So I probably have a preconception that Transcribe will be just as bad.

I've had Dragon for about 8 years so I'm used to something that really is 99% correct. At least in my case. So MS would really need to wow me.

If someone does try this, I would love to hear what they think.
MS claims the new online AI engine has better voice-to-text accuracy than the desktop dictation program.

But I've read in reviews that with the transcribe option an uploaded audio file will have still better accuracy than a live recording. IDK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bump... I know it sounds like I'm a Microsoft shill, but I'm not. (Full disclosure though, I do have a soft spot for Word.)

There seems to be a couple advantages to the Microsoft Word transcribe function versus Dragon.

More than once using Dragon, I would have been live-transcribing away, and then later I'd be looking at a word or words and think What the heck did I say? I would read something in my transcription like "David asked the vizier to stay." Vizier? There's no vizier in this story. And then after wrestling with it in my mind for an hour I'd figure it out: "David asked if it was easier to stay." Ahaaa. Once again, I had been talking too fast and/or not clearly enough. Or the dumb program just wasn't good enough. Whatever.

Then I found I could get around this problem by recording the audio first, then transcribing the audio file in Dragon. So, I could then highlight "David asked the vizier to stay," play back my voice in the audio recording, and then know immediately what the words actually were.

Thing is, that version of Dragon is more expensive. And more to the point, storing hours upon hours of my own high-quality uncompressed audio recordings on my hard drive, and then on external drives after I ran out of space on my laptop, took up a lot of gig space. I also was reluctant to delete any of my recordings, just in case on the final read-through I found something that didn't jibe and I wanted Dragon to read back my original dictation, to double-check.

So, in this new MS transcribe function, the recordings are all made automatically. So you can "read back" any past dictation, any time. Best of all the audio files of the recordings are on the web and not on my hard drive(s), and if I'm reading Microsoft's terms & conditions right there is 1 terabyte of audio storage per account on each customer's personal OneDrive.

Incidentally there's also Microsoft Editor built-in with the Microsoft 360 subscription. M. Editor is kind of like Grammarly, only not as expensive for the highest end version. From what I read Grammarly is so far still better, but anyway.

It's looking to me like MS transcribe might be the wave of the future...

Am I wrong about the advantages? End of commercial...
 

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Couple of questions for you and a comment.

First, is Word 365 cheaper than Dragon? Is Dragon now a subscription service too? The cost of any subscription service piles up over time.

Next question is about dictating your writing. How do you like that? I find it difficult, but I suspect that is simply because it's new and a different way of composing. I am old enough that I remember transitioning from longhand to keyboard and how keyboard felt strange in comparison.

Finally, have you tried Google Docs speech to text feature? It's free and I was surprised at the accuracy. Google is drawing on the massive amount of experience its code has of people dictating to Android phones and now Google Home devices, so it does seem to recognize a lot of speech.

If you want to dictate and still use Word, you could try composing in Google Docs and then doing a cut and paste into your Word doc when done dictating.
 

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nail file said:
"Quote
You can only upload five hours of recordings per month"
That right there doesn't work for me.
That's what I saw as an interesting 'feature' too. At least regarding writing novels.

Then I wondered, what if you ran the audio file through an audio editor where you could speed up the speech? I've gotten into the habit of running youtube videos at 2x speed (click on the gear icon, select playback speed or use the shift-</shift-> characters). could you test the transcription service at 1x, 2x, ... 10x speed? Then you drop fifty hours of content a month. When does it start to fail with significant errors? Could if figure out what the Chipmunk cartoons are saying?...

And that's where I'd waste hours rather than typing, testing the limits of the envelope.

.
 

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I can't remember for sure, but I'm sure the article I read mentioned a five hour limitation for anyone using the downloaded version of Word. I don't think there is a limit if you use the web version.

ETA.

Here it is. I was sort of right in what I remembered. :D
The Verge
Microsoft is limiting transcription to Microsoft 365 subscribers, though, who'll also be limited to five-hours monthly for uploaded audio, with no way to extend that transcription time for now. (For audio recorded within Word on the web, there is no transcription limit.)
Triceratops said:
More than once using Dragon, I would have been live-transcribing away, and then later I'd be looking at a word or words and think What the heck did I say? I would read something in my transcription like "David asked the vizier to stay." Vizier? There's no vizier in this story. And then after wrestling with it in my mind for an hour I'd figure it out: "David asked if it was easier to stay." Ahaaa. Once again, I had been talking too fast and/or not clearly enough. Or the dumb program just wasn't good enough. Whatever.
Dragon Playback. Do you have the Home Version? I have Premier or Pro or whatever it is, but I thought Playback was in all versions. As long as you're writing in one of their list of word processors, all your audio is saved. You can always check your source.

Will Write for Gruel said:
First, is Word 365 cheaper than Dragon? Is Dragon now a subscription service too? The cost of any subscription service piles up over time.

Next question is about dictating your writing. How do you like that? I find it difficult, but I suspect that is simply because it's new and a different way of composing. I am old enough that I remember transitioning from longhand to keyboard and how keyboard felt strange in comparison.
No clue about the current pricing structure. I bought Dragon outright and have always been able to take advantage of their upgrade policy.

And yes, it's just something new to get used to. I had a hard time at first, because my fingers on the keyboard are simply part of the process. My brain needed to get around that.

There is a fairly long Dragon thread on here that you might want to check out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Will Write for Gruel said:
If you want to dictate and still use Word, you could try composing in Google Docs and then doing a cut and paste into your Word doc when done dictating.
Right, but most text programs and OS's offer some kind of dictate function these days. For example, in Windows you can dictate with Cortana. For phones, you can dictate in both iPhone OS or Android. So there's a plethora of dictation options in that regard.

What puts Dragon and (now) Word in a separate category is the recording of your audio file for playback later. Dragon and Word can both A. record your speech and B. play the audio back for any specific transcribed text that you would wish to highlight, so that you can edit / proof the text at a later time, like days/weeks/months later.

So the distinction is dictation vs transcription. Dictation is live-only. Transcription offers playback of your speech at a later time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: being able to upload only five hours of audio a month~

nail file said:
That right there doesn't work for me.
I hear you. And I agree. I suppose however if one is recording only at one's house, one could just record live in the online Word application instead of on a pocket recording device etc; that way you could record unlimited hours of recorded audio files in Word. You wouldn't need to upload audio files.

Presuming that Word-transcribe is just as accurate as Dragon (a big presumption), it might be okay. As long as you only recorded at home. I guess if you occasionally record on a pocket recorder or phone while driving to the store, etc, you'd be able to use the 5 hour upload allocation for that? IDK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ImaWriter said:
Dragon Playback. Do you have the Home Version? I have Premier or Pro or whatever it is, but I thought Playback was in all versions. As long as you're writing in one of their list of word processors, all your audio is saved. You can always check your source.
I did have the Dragon Home version, once. I think I could indeed play back my session-recorded audio, in Home. But the recording was temporary. I could not save the audio I had recorded in that session. That was my biggest issue with Home. I could not go back a day or two later and play back my audio recording. The Home version deleted / did not save the audio when I closed the program, or started a new recording session.

But yes, I do think you can play back your audio with Home as long as you remain in that recording session.

I didn't stick with Home because it interrupted my flow; I like to get down a rough draft without stopping, and then return to edit a day or week etc later.

In order to save the audio files in that regard, I had to buy Dragon Professional Individual which was like $300. But since it was an upgrade I think Dragon let me only pay the balance.
 

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Y'all are lucky to have good sounding voices that you don't mind listening to. I absolutely detest my aspie high-pitched baby voice. If I had to listen to myself reading I would burn the recording and my manuscript with fire.
 
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