Microsoft updates accessibility feature Voice Access to auto-restart

How do you say something's crash-prone without saying it's crash-prone ...

Microsoft is adding the ability for Voice Access to automatically pick itself up should the service fall over.

The feature has appeared for some in the Windows Insider Canary Channel via build 26231. Depending on the feedback Microsoft gets, it will gradually be rolled out to all Insiders.

While a cynic might wonder why Microsoft couldn't just prevent the accessibility feature from crashing, the change will benefit users who depend on the service and might otherwise have to turn to alternative options or assistance from others to get voice access up and running again.

"Should voice access automatically restart due to a crash, we are making it easier to report those crashes once voice access restarts so the team can investigate and work on fixes," said Microsoft.

Or stick an On Error Resume Next or two into the code and cross your fingers. Not that this writer would ever have dreamt of doing such a thing back in the heyday of Visual Basic.

Voice access has received a bit of an overhaul in the new release. Narrator users can now dictate hands-free and give the service commands (for example, "speak faster.") Getting a list of possible commands requires clicking the help icon on the voice access bar.

The Windows team has also added the ability to copy files from the Windows share window via a copy button and made the updated visuals for the "Rename your PC" and "Change date and time" dialogs available to everyone in the Canary Channel.

There are a few problems – this is the Canary Channel, after all, and instability is to be expected. Some Windows Insiders also remain stuck on builds from January 2024 in the form of build 26040 on the Canary Channel and 23620 on the Dev Channel.

Microsoft described the investigation into the Voice Access crashing issue as "ongoing" and advised impacted users keen to get on the latest builds to download the latest ISO image and do a clean installation. ®

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