Microsoft Introduces Windows Sound System Leading the Way to Productive Use of Audio in Business Computing
Redmond, Wash. -- Sept. 21, 1992 -- Microsoft Corporation today announced the Microsoft Windows Sound System, a set of software applications and an add-in sound board that provides easy-to-use, high-quality audio features designed specifically for the business environment.
The Windows Sound System uses the audio capabilities of the Windows operating system, version 3.1, to deliver useful audio applications namely voice annotation, proofreading and voice recognition helping make business users more productive and enabling them to communicate more effectively. It uses the standard Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) capability in Windows to seamlessly integrate audio into mainstream business applications.
"Windows 3.1 brings audio and full multimedia functionality to the desktop. The Windows Sound System provides powerful tools that take advantage of Windows audio and makes it easier for business people to use audio in everyday activities," said Paul Maritz, senior vice president of systems at Microsoft Corporation. "We believe that users will experience the benefits of audio and that this experience will accelerate their acceptance of the full multimedia potential in Windows."
The growing interest of audio in business was seen in June when Compaq Computer Corporation delivered on the joint technology development effort set by Compaq, Microsoft and Analog Devices. Compaq introduced built-in audio capabilities (called Business Audio) into the configurations of their new PCs, the COMPAQ DESKPRO/i and COMPAQ DESKPRO/M series. Microsoft anticipates that other PC hardware vendors will incorporate audio as a standard feature on the motherboard. Microsoft plans to license the Windows Sound System software to other hardware vendors.
"The extraordinary success of our Business Audio-capable PCs demonstrates that our customers are ready to integrate audio into their business computing environments. They can see immediate benefits through increased productivity when using audio under Windows 3.1," said Richard Swingle, vice president of Desktop Marketing, PC Division, Compaq Computer Corporation.
Microsoft's audio strategy is based on its belief that the demand for audio in business namely for voice-annotated documents, number proofreading and voice recognition will encourage a whole new generation of audio-enhanced applications. The Windows Sound System addresses the need for useful audio applications designed specifically for networked work groups, finance, sales/marketing and training.
Windows Sound System Provides Practical Tools
The Windows Sound System provides practical software tools to increase productivity in business for users of Windows. The system addresses both the hardware and software requirements for using audio in Windows computing, and is compliant with the audio specifications of the Multimedia PC.
The Windows Sound System consists of: three productivity applications (Quick Recorder, ProofReader and Voice Pilot); a Setup utility; and several other utilities.
Quick Recorder easily generates and adds voice annotations to documents and files, such as electronic mail. This ability can enhance and personalize communications between co-workers in a number of ways, including:
Quick Recorder uses the OLE capabilities of Windows to easily insert sound objects into a file. To add a voice annotation to a document, users record a message, and then simply drag and drop the message icon into the document. Users may then customize the message icon to indicate who the recording is from, or to better represent the message. Users may also edit the annotations using audio editing features.
Quick Recorder automatically selects a recording sample rate and compression appropriate to voice recordings to help conserve hard disk space. The Quick Recorder also works with external devices, such as audio CD players or cassette decks, allowing users to add music or other sounds to their recordings.
The ProofReader application provides audible proofing of numbers and common spreadsheet terms with a high-quality human voice. This proofreading capability eliminates the need to involve two people in the proofing process, as well as reduces the time and improves the accuracy of the task.
ProofReader is used primarily for checking the accuracy of numerical data. This application comes with a standard dictionary of more than 170 financial terms, including numbers and global currencies, days of the week, months, units of time (such as a.m. and p.m.), fractions, units of measure and standard spreadsheet terms (such as "Credit" and "Debit").
Users also have the flexibility to customize the ProofReader in several ways: adjust the proofing speed, add their own dictionary of terms, choose to have numbers read back as they are entered, specify whether to proof by rows or columns, and choose whether to proof from left to right or right to left.
The ProofReader works with Microsoft Excel 3.0 and 4.0 and Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows 3.1. As other Windows-based spreadsheets become available, proofreading support for these spreadsheets is scheduled to be added.
Expanding the versatility of the PC interface, the Voice Pilot enables users to execute commands by voice, using a microphone that comes with the Windows Sound System. Users may navigate through the Windows operating system (and 15 Windows-based applications) via limited voice recognition. With Voice Pilot, users can execute menu commands, including system commands such as "Next Window," or commands in a word processing document, such as "Cut" and "Paste."
Voice Pilot also controls customized commands, such as a standard "Closing" or "Boilerplate," allowing users to insert standard text into a document upon command. Although Voice Pilot can understand most people's speech, a training mode is also available to adapt it to different accents or pronunciations.
Voice Pilot comes with a pre-defined vocabulary for 15 Windows-based applications:
The Windows Sound System includes a Setup utility that simplifies the installation process so that users can incorporate audio in an easy and immediate way. Software-selectable DMAs and hardware interrupts also help to make the installation procedure easier.
The Windows Sound System has several additional utilities to make working with audio easier and more flexible. These include:
The Windows Sound System software functionality is dependent upon the quality of the hardware components, which is encompassed in a 16-bit add-in audio board. The system supports selectable sampling rates up to 48KHz and includes a CODEC chip, MIDI synthesizer (Yamaha OPL3) chip and five connectors (for input from audio device or output to speakers). The Windows Sound System will also ship with headphones and a microphone.
At the heart of the Windows Sound System hardware is Analog Device's AD1848 SoundPort CODEC IC. This chip supports audio from a variety of different sources, including CD-quality (16-bit, 44 KHz) and telephone-quality (8-bit, 11Khz). Availability, Pricing and System Requirements
The Windows Sound System is scheduled to be available in early October through resellers at a suggested retail price of $289. It will also be offered with Windows 3.1 at a suggested retail price of $349.
The Windows Sound System requires a 386SX with a 16MHz processor, a minimum of 2MB RAM, a VGA display and Microsoft Windows operating system version 3.1.
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