If you have Windows Vista, even the Home Basic version, you already have one of the more powerful speech recognition systems available. Microsoft has invested many millions of dollars in research regarding speech recognition over the years. Some of what they study in the R&D labs is years away from being a product, but there's a lot of new fancy speech recognition technology built right into Vista.
To get started, all you need to do is click the start menu, type the word "speech," and click on "Windows Speech Recognition." If you do it that way, you'll just be stumbling around in the dark. To get the most out of speech recognition, you'll want to go to the control panel and run the wizards and tutorials.
We'll step you through some of the cooler features of speech recognition and give you some tips on how to use it. Before you know it, you'll be talking to your email. All you need is any version of the Vista operating system and a microphone. How good is it? Well, we only touched the keyboard a scant few times while making this entire article.