Text-to-Speech (TTS) refers to the ability of computers to read text aloud (speech synthesis). A TTS Engine converts written text to a phonemic representation, then converts the phonemic representation to waveforms that can be output as sound. Windows desktop systems can use SAPI 4 and SAPI 5 components to support speech synthesis and speech recognition.
Windows XP has a English voice engine called Sam. Beginning with Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft Anna is the default English TTS voice. It is a female voice and is designed to sound more natural. Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 and later install the Microsoft Anna voice on Windows XP systems for the voice-prompt direction feature.
In 2010, Microsoft released the newer Speech Platform compatible voices for Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech for use with client and server applications. These voices are available in 26 languages and can be installed on Windows client and server operating systems, also on Windows 7 and Server 2003.
The Microsoft Speech Platform allows developers to build and deploy Text-to-Speech applications. The Microsoft Speech Platform consists of a Runtime, and Runtime Languages (engines for speech recognition and text-to-speech). There are separate Runtime Languages for speech recognition and speech synthesis.
Downloadable files for Microsoft Speech Platform
- Install Speech Platform Runtime. (the file SpeechPlatformRuntime.msi’)
- Select and download any desired voice pack, then install.
I suggest to try 32 bit versions first for compatibility with your text-to-speech (TTS) software.
For example Microsoft David (US male), Hazel (UK female) and Zira (US female) sound more natural than the Microsoft Anna.