Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large 134, Windows 11 from a Blindness Perspective

This transcript is made possible thanks to funding from InternetNZ. You can read the full transcript below, download it in Microsoft Word, or download an accessible PDF.


Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show today, Microsoft has announced Windows 11 and our expert panel, Terry Bray and Matt Campbell join us. There’s listener comments from Clubhouse and we talk about Microsoft’s accessibility radio silence.

Theme music: Mosen At Large Podcast.

Jonathan: Welcome to our special recap event of Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcement, whether you’re listening live on Clubhouse or on the Mosen At Large podcast feed. It’s great to have you with us. I’m Jonathan Mosen. Soon, I will introduce to you our expert panel and then we will open it up for comments from you. I’m looking forward to your reflections, your questions, your comments. First of all, this is a bit different because, with Apple events, we tend to do recaps right afterwards. In this case, I delayed this recap by a full day after the launch of Windows 11 so we could discuss accessibility announcements relating to Windows 11.

The trouble is nothing has been announced. Not a thing. If all you follow are Microsoft Accessibility channels, you wouldn’t even know that Windows 11 has been announced. Microsoft Accessibility Twitter account didn’t even promote the fact that a launch of the next version of Windows was imminent. Since that launch, they haven’t mentioned it in a single tweet and there is nothing on the Microsoft Accessibility pages about Windows 11. Microsoft has been working hard in recent years to change its public image of being aloof and uncaring.

They have tried to engage with end-users via various digital channels, but the way they have ghosted the inquiries of disabled people, who simply, and in my view, perfectly reasonably, want to know if anything will be changing from an accessibility point of view in Windows 11, is nothing short of disgraceful. The launch of a major operating system that powers the vast majority of the world’s computers will have been meticulously planned for months. Naturally, it’s of considerable interest to a lot of people.

What’s gone wrong to the extent that well over 24 hours after that launch, Microsoft hasn’t said a thing about Narrator, about whether they’ve been working with third-party screen reader vendors at this point, about what the new user interface will be like from a screen reader user’s perspective, and many other accessibility matters for people with other impairment. Many of us have wished that Apple would say more in their keynotes about accessibility, but to Apple’s credit, at least they have web pages ready to go live soon after the event, which talk about accessibility features.

This debacle has left me wondering, how much Microsoft really has changed and how much we truly do matter. Almost everyone who has responded to my tweets on this issue have strongly agreed that the radio silence from Microsoft is both puzzling and unacceptable. One person, and yes, there always is one, of course, came out with the old “We just have to be patient” mantra. I say this about that, the 24th of June, US time, was Windows 11 announcement day. They didn’t say at any time that there was a different Windows 11 announcement day for disabled people.

Patience be damned. If they announce the operating system for everyone else, that was the day we have the right to expect an announcement for us as well. Disabled people should not, and I hope, will not accept being shunted to the back of the virtual bus. Those days are long behind us. Microsoft has dropped the ball big time on this. They’ve got to make it right, and I believe that we are owed an apology. Let’s talk now about what we do know, even if it’s nothing about accessibility regarding Windows 11, and I will introduce our panel. First of all, from Sunny Canada, we have Terry Bray. Welcome, Terry, would you like to introduce yourself?

Terry Bray: Thank you, and thank you for having me. As you said, my name is Terry Bray. I am in Canada and my daytime job is at a major financial institution where I’m a senior technology specialist. Don’t ask me what that means because I haven’t figured it out. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m retiring in the fall. Maybe I’ll know by then what I actually do.

Jonathan: [chuckles] You play a lot with Windows and you are on the Insider Program, correct?

Terry: I am on the Insider Program and there was nothing in the Insider Program about accessibility either. As we pointed out before we started, Jonathan, there was a graphic on their page that said what the system requirements was, but it wasn’t even accessible. Yes, I do play with Windows and my daytime job, of course, is all in Windows.

Jonathan: That is very strange given Microsoft’s recent history, that they would produce an inaccessible graphic like that. It’s also probably timely to mention that, while there was a captioned version of the presentation yesterday, it was not audio described. Now, to be fair, I have raised that, and Microsoft’s head of Accessibility Jenny Lay-Flurrie has apologized and said that they will make that right and that they should have done it live and that they will come up with an audio-described version as soon as possible, so I’m grateful to Jenny for acknowledging that, but something very strange is going on with this whole release of Windows 11 from an accessibility context.

We’ll come back to more of that. Matt Campbell is our other panelist. What would you like to tell us about yourself, Matt, other than we’re not going to be looking at Linux today?

Matt Campbell: Right. In fact, Windows has been my primary platform for quite a while now. I have been an assistive technology developer in one way or another for about 20 years. Some of you may remember that I developed the system access screen reader for Serotek. More recently, I was a developer on the Windows Accessibility team at Microsoft for almost three and a half years. Now, to be clear, I won’t be divulging anything internal here today, but I just wanted to get that out there in the interest of full disclosure. As I said, Windows is my primary platform, so I continue to follow it with interest.

Jonathan: I’m grateful for you being here, and I’m going to respect your position. I have heard all sorts of really interesting rumors about what may or may not be coming up in Narrator. I’m not going to discuss those, not because I’m not prepared to discuss them, but because I don’t want to put anybody in an invidious position with this. I was hoping that we’d have things to talk about and in that regard, we have nothing to talk about, but we have lots of other things to talk about, so let’s go to it. While I have you there, Matt, tell me about your overall impressions.

We will drill way down and we’ll talk about individual things. What’s your overall feeling about this announcement? Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, ambivalent, what did you think?

Matt: From what I heard and reading between the lines, my feeling is that, in terms of magnitude of impact for screen reader users, I would guess that Windows 11 is going to be somewhere between Windows Vista and Windows 10. The start menu obviously is a big deal. It looks like they have rewritten it again. It sounds like they’ve made some changes to the taskbar, which has been pretty stable in terms of its implementation all the way back to Windows 95, but they’re changing it now. Going again all the way back to ’95, you’ve been able to move the taskbar so it can be docked to the top or the sides of the screen, and that capability, however rarely used is gone.

That tells me that they’ve made some deeper changes this time around. For me, the most interesting feature they announced in Windows 11 was support for running Android apps. Naturally, we’ll have to wait and see how accessible that is.

Jonathan: We’ll talk about all these things. Your overall impression is you’re kind of not ambivalent, you’re excited about what’s coming to some small degree, right?

Matt: I think anxious or apprehensive would be more like it.

Jonathan: Well, speculation fills a vacuum and this is one of the problems we have. We’ll come back and have a look at all these things that you started to discuss in more detail. Terry, you’ve got the decision to make, don’t you, that with no announcements at this stage on accessibility whatsoever, you’re on the insider track, how does that leave you? How are you feeling about Windows 11?

Terry: I’m somewhat ambivalent in a way. I understand the logic in moving to a new operating system and that you need, at some point, to probably drop off a lot of legacy that’s called trash. I don’t mean people’s computers are trash. I mean that there’s a lot of stuff in Windows that’s been there. Probably, there’s still code in there from Windows 95, although I wouldn’t know about that. I’m somewhat ambivalent and partly because it’s the first real announcement from Microsoft about Windows in six years and because it’s not actually coming to the market. I don’t think– I saw somewhere about the fall. Is everything that we heard or everything that we failed to hear as you rightly point out Jonathan, actually the way what will come out to the public actually be?

Jonathan: There is going to be a point where you will see both operating systems being updated, they have promised Windows 10 will be supported till 2025. This November or so, you will have the choice to upgrade to Windows 10 21H2 if you want to, or you can compute a permitting upgrade to 11. We will talk about system requirements in a second. Windows 11 updates are going to be annual. I’m sure that some people who have little glitches when they sometimes get a Windows update will be glad of this. They’re moving away from six-monthly updates.

Let’s talk about system requirements. On the surface, they appear modest, but actually, there are some fishhooks there. Who’d like to have a first cut at discussing the implications of what’s required to run this new operating system?

Terry: The first one is probably not only the confusion but the problems that will be created by using the onboard chip for safe boot. Is that what it’s called?

Matt: Secure boot.

Terry: Secure boot. Now, my system happens to have it and it happens to be enabled and it happens to be working, but there are a lot of systems out there, where it’s there, but it may not be enabled. It would be a problem for people who can’t see to turn it on because this is a BIOS-level thing. The problem I see, Jonathan, is this, technology in the chip market has moved on and there are a lot of features onboard chips today that are simply not being used by Microsoft. Unlike Apple, who designs their own chips, they’re at the beck and call of the chip makers like Intel and AMD, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

I’m concerned about the problems that people will have with this. On the other hand, there may be ways that Microsoft knows of that I don’t, that they can enable it for you if it’s built-in and it’s turned on. If you look at the actual system requirements, they are very modest. They’re not expecting a 36 core processor. They don’t want you to have 128 gigs of RAM. Although they did double the disk capacity, you need 64 gigabytes of memory storage. Pardon me for the operating system. Really, if the barriers can be passed, that do exist, I don’t think as many people will necessarily be left out in the cold as they think we’ll be.

Jonathan: Coming to a theater near you, Alvin and Chip Market. Good movie, Alvin and the Chip Market. [laughs] Sorry, go ahead Matt.

Matt: Terry, you might be surprised to learn that my PC does not meet the requirements according to Microsoft’s PC health check tool. It’s about five years old. It’s an Asus Zenbook Pro with a quad-core processor, 16 gigs of RAM, 512 gig SSD. As you can hear, it’s pretty healthy specs. It does have the secure boot capability. I went into the BIOS yesterday and turned that back on. I can do that because I’m low vision, and it has the Trusted Platform Module, TPM version 2.0. Yet, when I ran the PC health check tool, it said that my PC didn’t meet the requirements. It wouldn’t tell me which requirements it didn’t meet.

Jonathan: I think I’ve read somewhere that you might need an 8th-generation processor, is that correct?

Matt: I did some reading about that yesterday and there’s a difference between the hard minimum requirements and what they call the soft floor. The 8th-generation processor was apparently the soft floor. One commenter in the thread I was reading said that those requirements are for manufacturers designing new systems.

Jonathan: I did read just a couple of hours ago, and for those listening on the podcast, we are producing this on Friday night US time, and I read a couple of hours ago that Microsoft has just issued another version of their help tool. If you’re wondering if your computer can run it, you can download a health or help tool or whatever they’re calling it. You can run this and–

Matt: Windows PC health check.

Jonathan: Yes. All right, very good. It tells you very helpfully whether your PC can or cannot run Windows but what it doesn’t really do a good job of telling you is why.

Matt: It’s accessible.

Jonathan: Yes, it is accessible. The point that you point out, I think both of you have pointed out is a really good one that at least with Apple, if you need to go into this really deep system level, you can. I’m not aware of an accessible way for a screen reader user to get into the BIOS. It’s a real concern in that regard, that you might need sighted assistance and it would even be hard for a service like Aira to help you with this. You’d have to point your camera at the screen and navigate the menus. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do that because if you’ve got a setting wrong, you could really be in trouble. This is a domain that really hasn’t been conquered yet in the PC world.

Terry: With the chipsets that are out today, one would think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to build speech into the BIOS, at least, not being a developer, I wouldn’t know what the problem–

Matt: I was reading motherboard specs yesterday because I did some PC window shopping. I was reading specs for a particular motherboard. It mentioned that it had 256 megabytes of RAM for the firmware. One certainly could fit a screen-reader and a decent software synthesizer in there.

Jonathan: That’s an interesting thought, but that would be something that the BIOS manufacturer presumably would have to do correct? or would that be a motherboard manufacturer choice to make?

Matt: The BIOS vendor, yes. Now, one possibility is Microsoft has made their own firmware for the surface open-source. That might be a project for me to take on someday.

Terry: I think a few years ago, Jonathan, that Intel actually had a utility and I haven’t looked for it, so I didn’t want to tinker around with it, but seems to me that Intel did at one time have a utility that you could actually run when you were in a booted system to read the BIOS.

Jonathan: It would be wonderful if we could take that challenge on for sure, because a lot of people are going into– my system, I’m pretty confident will run it. My Dell XPS 15 just comes up positive right away, which is great because it’s a grunty machine. My PC in the studio, I’m confident will run it because I only replaced the motherboard about nine months ago. I haven’t enabled secure boot and I haven’t enabled TPM, so I need sighted assistance to do that. I have been reading, and you may be able to comment on this Matt, that there can be some potential downsides of enabling secure boot relating to driver support. Have you seen this? Have you seen this around?

Matt: I have not had to run an unsigned driver for years. I haven’t run across that. I actually wasn’t aware that modern versions of Windows would even load drivers that weren’t digitally signed by the manufacturer and by Microsoft. Unless, of course, you were in some developer mode.

Jonathan: Can we talk then about the new Start menu, another new Start menu. I guess it’s difficult for us to really comment on what this might behave like from an accessibility point of view because what’s really happened in recent versions of Windows is from a screen reader user’s perspective, they’ve tried to make the user experience quite similar from version to version, even though visually, there have been quite significant differences.

Matt: I think it’s safe to say that this time, the screen reader experience will be quite different because from what I can tell from the screenshots that I looked at, it looks like it’s a completely different layout.

Jonathan: People have made an analogy to the Dock in Mac. Visually, is that what you perceive as well?

Matt: The Taskbar is a little bit like the Dock, in that the icons are centered. I think a better analogy for the new Start menu would be the Launchpad on Mac OS.

Jonathan: The question I have and I’m sure a lot of blind people will have is, will there still be that little edit field where you can just type the name of the application you want to launch or the part of settings you want to go to?

Matt: Are you talking about the search box in the Start menu?

Jonathan: Yes.

Matt: I’m sure there will. I was wondering if you were talking about the good old Windows+R.

Jonathan: Well, Windows+R’s got to stay. They’re not going to take Windows+R away.

Matt: Well, you never know.

Jonathan: Never say never.

Terry: I would bet the farm on it. [laughs]

Matt: I will be very disappointed if Windows+R is gone. [laughs] I’ll just pop open a command prompt and get where I need to go, anyway.

Jonathan: Well, how are you going to do it, Windows+R? [chuckles]

Matt: I’ve got my command prompt pinned to the taskbar so Windows 3.0 for me.

Jonathan: Yes, very good. I have a whole bunch of broadcasting applications because when I’m doing Mosen at Large and that kind of thing, my taskbar is full of those. Speaking of that, they did talk a bit about some changes to desktops and I think that the ability to create multiple desktops and Windows is one of its biggest undersold features. I love that and one of the things that I wish they would add is the ability to save desktops. When it’s time, for example, for me to broadcast, I can just load that desktop and all my apps come back, and there they go, but I didn’t hear reference to that yesterday so I’m hoping that might’ve made it into 11.

Matt: Unfortunately, that was during one of those times when the stream cut out for me, at least.

Terry: Mine cut almost at the beginning and I had to go to ZDNet to read what going on.

Jonathan: Yes, I was trying to ration, because I was a bit hard on my– with justification in my view on Microsoft at the beginning so I dropped that from my comments, but yes, I got up at 3:00 in the morning and tuned in and I got 15 seconds of “Welcome to Windows.” My heart was racing and I’m thinking, “Oh, finally, we’re going to hear–” Then it just cut out. I finally found a non sanctioned stream on YouTube although, apparently the Twitter one did hold up, but Microsoft chose not to put it on their Windows YouTube channel. A lot of people experienced this problem yesterday, but there are some changes to the desktops, but I didn’t hear that you would be able to save them and that’d be a terrific feature if that happens.

Matt: Yes, I’m not clear on what is actually different with multiple desktops this time.

Jonathan: It sounded like it was relating to wallpapers and quite visual aesthetic things from what I was able to gather. Windows updates, we’ll talk about those briefly. They are going to be 40% smaller and more likely to happen in the background. Hopefully, you should see fewer annoying restarts of Windows. I actually had to check out of a hotel one morning and there was a very long line and I had a meeting to go to when I finally made it to the front of the line, I had to wait five minutes because the Windows computer that runs the checkout system had spontaneously decided to restart installing updates. [laughs]

That’d be great if they can manage that. Can we talk next about Teams integration? This is going to be on the taskbar. The way I understand this working is there’s going to be a chat app. It’s going to be based on the consumer version of Teams. You will be able to invite people to talk with you, collaborate with you in any platform because Teams for iOS and Android are well set up. I also read that you will be able to send SMS messages and because they’re SMS, they will apply to both iPhone and Android. You’ll be able to text from that app.

What I wasn’t clear about whether that was just the invitation that you were texting or whether they’re going to try and go for that same market, that the iMessage app has on the Mac, where you can actually send and receive text messages and texts with people on your computer. My question for you guys is do you think Skype is not long for this world? Because I would predict that Skype’s deprecation will be announced within the next couple of years, or so.

Matt: There is a hint that they’re moving in that direction. I found a Microsoft web page which lists things that have been dropped in Windows 11, and that was where I found the bit about not being able to move the taskbar that I mentioned earlier, but another thing they listed on there is that Skype will no longer be included in new installs of the OS.

Jonathan: What do you think Terry? Are we going to see Skype going bye-bye in the next little while?

Terry: Well, I use Teams at work all the time and I have Teams installed on this machine I’m talking on. Goodbye and good riddance if it is.

Jonathan: You’re happy with Teams?

Terry: Happy? I don’t know about happy, but I find that Teams in many ways is considerably more accessible. You can interact with the chat Windows, it’s not a Zoom product of course, and I don’t want to get into comparisons because I don’t actually like Zoom very much and that’s just a personal thing, but because I do all my meetings, my phone is Teams, my chat is Teams, my calendar is Teams. I’m pretty embedded in Teams, Jonathan, to be honest. I have Skype, the only thing that bugs me is I can’t import my Skype contacts into Teams, or at least I haven’t found a way to do it.

Matt: Oh, I bet that’ll be coming. Terry, I agree with you that I will not miss Skype if it does go away, and really the only thing that modern Skype shares with classic pre-Microsoft Skype is the name. Skype by now has been completely rewritten. The classic Windows Skype App that we all know and probably had a love-hate relationship with is no more and in fact, modern Skype from what I know, and this is from what I was able to determine even as an outsider, modern Skype is already based on pretty much the same technology stack as Teams. If they’re going to go ahead and phase out the old brand, then that’s fine.

Terry: They’ve already killed the corporate version, Jonathan.

Matt: We went through that transition. When I joined Microsoft, we were using Skype for business, at least on my team and we went through the transition from that to Teams.

Jonathan: Yes, I started my current job a couple of years ago, and we were retiring Skype for business at that time. I do like Teams, I think the audio quality on Teams is very good actually, but it does bring up for me the fact that there’s a hodgepodge of user interfaces in Microsoft land at the moment and I talked about this on last week’s show. I just wish– when you go to a Mac application, for example, you know that you’ve got a menu bar at the top, you know how to get there, you generally know what the keystroke is to get into the preferences. There’s an element of consistency about it.

You go into Teams, there’s no menu bar at all. If you’re using it day in and day out like you and I are Terry, it becomes muscle memory and you know that when you want to send a chat, you’re going to press your control+ 2 and that sort of thing, but what’s actually that intuitive about control+ 2? It’s a very busy screen. I do wish we could have some ability to skim these apps, give us a nice menu bar back and that goes for Office as well. I may sound like a Luddite and everything, but I never thought that the ribbon was particularly an attractive user interface.

Matt: Me neither. Believe me, there’s plenty of consternation among developers as well about just the plethora of options that Microsoft provides for third-party developers wanting to implement a user interface for Windows and the fact that there isn’t really one right way to do it as there is with say, Apple.

Jonathan: Yes, I’ve been using Windows for not too far short of 30 years when I was much heavier and younger and I’m very fortunate because I’ve been able to see these changes rolled out incrementally, but if you are an assistive technology trainer right now, and you are starting somebody out on their Windows journey, I just really feel for those people because there’s no consistency about the user experience from app to app.

Matt: I can imagine having to train people on old-school native apps versus websites versus apps that are really websites in a native wrapper and just the different conventions that all of those have.

Terry: I’m very glad I don’t do any training anymore, to be honest. It’s getting to be almost too much to remember yourself to run programs, let alone teach somebody.

Jonathan: Widgets are finally coming to Windows. This is really the last major platform to jump on the Windows bandwagon and they will display things like your calendar, latest news, sports scores, the usual things that you would find in widgets. We’re now used to them if we are iPhone users, Android have had them for a very long time and developers will be able to make these widgets as well. It’s not confined to Microsoft, which was one suggestion at one point that maybe we’d only see Microsoft being able to produce them. Does this excite people?

Matt: This is the first that I had heard that third-party developers will be able to make widgets. As you might expect, I listened to the session about Windows 11 for developers yesterday afternoon and I did not hear anything about widgets. They talked about the new store. They talked about new features for web developers, they talked about what they’re doing for native apps and they talked about games, but they did not talk about widgets. I am curious to know how those are implemented. I hope that they’re implemented as embedded web pages because that will probably be the most easily navigable option for a screen reader user.

Jonathan: How would you navigate them? Where would they appear in your workflow?

Mat: That’s a good question because would they appear in your all tab or would there be yet another non-mnemonic Windows + something hotkey for moving your focus there?

Jonathan: That’ll be critical in terms of efficiency because I certainly would be disinclined to use widget if I have to Alt+Tab through them.

Matt: As with all of this, we’ll just have to wait and find out.

Jonathan: We will. We’re depending on you to install that Windows inside a build Terry and be the guinea pig for us all.


Terry: I’m thinking that maybe I want to drop down a channel or two in that program right now.

Jonathan: I’m not going to do it. I’m just betaed out right now but I’m looking forward to what people experience.

Matt: I might have to see if I can grab an ISO and maybe force it to run in a VM.

Jonathan: Yes, VM should be all right I think. Virtual machines for those unfamiliar with that acronym. I’ve heard that a lot of virtual machines you can emulate all the things that Microsoft are wanting. Let’s talk about the new Touch experience for Windows without a keyboard. I don’t know what implications this might have for screen readers but I never could get on with Touch in any Windows screen reader and I can’t really explain why that is. It’s possible that it’s just because there’s more real estate to contend with or the gestures have just conflicted too much with what became muscle memory on my phone. I’d be interested whether both of you have got on with Touch. Whether if you have a touch device you actually use it a lot in tablet mode?

Matt: My laptop has a touchscreen, but I never use it. Now, when I was on the Windows accessibility team at Microsoft, from time to time I was assigned to test Narrator with Touch. Honestly I always just found it to be clunky.

Terry: I have it because I actually have the same laptop as you do.

Jonathan: Oh, you got the Dell?

Terry: Yes, the XPS 15. When I touch it, it’s most often inadvertently. It’s not on purpose.

Jonathan: Why is that? Is it because you guys are both major keyboard ninjas and so what you want to do, you just intuitively do or is there something wrong with the accessibility of touch?

Terry: I’m a keyboard person. That’s, I think, the problem. It’s actually part of the problem I have with my iPhone. I wish there was better keyboard support. At the end of the day, I actually prefer that than Touch.

Matt: Again drawing on my experience when I was at Microsoft, because I believe I’ve only ever used Touch with a Windows screen reader when I was assigned to do so. Some of the gestures were like iOS but some of them were different. Now the fact that different OSs have different gestures isn’t a problem in itself of course. I just found that the movement between different parts of the system. Say going into the action center or navigating the Start screen when it was in that full-screen tablet mode, it just wasn’t as smooth as it is on an iPhone or even on Android.

Honestly I’ve long since forgotten the specific bugs that I reported but it just wasn’t a satisfying experience. I’m a keyboard ninja as well but even if I were just going to treat it as if it was a phone or a tablet, I would still rather go with iOS or even Android.

Jonathan: Voice typing is also coming to Windows 11. You’ve had this dictation option in various applications for a while. They say that it is significantly enhanced and it sounds a bit like Dragon or the voice control features that you have on mobile operating systems. You’ll be able to delete text. I think it may also be possible to launch applications, so a significant expansion of the capabilities there. They made the point in their presentation that it will punctuate for you. I will be interested to see how well that works because I found with Dragon, that sometimes I would pause to think and it would interpret that as a new sentence but voice typing will be– That is I guess one accessibility feature that we know about.

Terry: They just bought Nuance, Microsoft did, so is the new product at some point really going to be Dragon?

Jonathan: Very good point. Yes, that might be a competitive advantage for them and can we please have eloquence and even the vocalizer voices but especially eloquence built into Windows, that’d be so sweet.

Matt: Now the question that comes to my mind is how smoothly will voice typing interact with Narrator and other third parties screen readers? First of all, will the screen reader echo back the system’s interpretation of whatever you just dictated, and will it provide feedback when you issue commands like delete that? The other question of course is if you’re using a speaker rather than headphones, will the speech recognition hear your screen reader, or do they have echo cancellation hooked up there? I don’t know the answers to those things.

Jonathan: Sometimes Apple does a terrific job of echo cancellations and other times not so much. With voice control, one of our listeners made the comment that they don’t use headphones and that when they use voice control with their iPhone, they hear voiceover speaking back and voice control then goes ahead and interprets that. That gives this wonderful loop going on. That would be great if Microsoft can sort that out because there are real efficiency gains to be had. Speech recognition is getting better and especially if they’ve got the Nuance technology onboard, where you can even go through a training process, where it’s on your local system, it’s trained specifically to your voice, you can add vocabulary, that would be a massive boost for Windows 11.

Let us talk about the Microsoft Store. Matt, it sounds like you may know quite a bit about this Microsoft Store. They have redesigned it considerably and they really want you to get stuff from the Microsoft Store but they also want developers to feel freer to use the store. What struck me is that there would be all sorts of applications that can now be put into the store.

Matt: Yes what I heard yesterday during the developer session is that developers will be able to put basically any kind of app that can run on Windows on the store. Whether it’s a Universal Windows Platform, UWP app. Which is the kind that you’ve always had on the Microsoft Store, or whether it’s a desktop app that has been converted to modern Windows app packaging. I won’t go into technical details there or whether it’s a desktop app that’s still packaged as a good old .exe or .msi installer. They’re also going to allow progressive web apps to be published on the store.

The other notable thing they announced is that developers do not need to go through Microsoft’s payment processing system. Developers can choose to use their own payment processing system and keep all of the money, except apparently for games.

Jonathan: Do you think then that this could mean we might see JAWS scripts and NVDA add ons appear in that store and that there might be a category for them in some way?

Matt: I’m not sure. Even with old-style installers being posted on the store, I’m not sure how much freedom those installers are going to have to put things in odd locations. That’s a good question that I hadn’t thought about. I don’t know enough yet about the details of how these classic applications are posted on the store because apparently, you have to sign up and be added to a waiting list to get access to those details at this point.

Jonathan: Could be interesting because what about if you could download JAWS itself or NVDA itself from the store?

Matt: I rather suspect that JAWS is too invasive in the system for that to be allowed but NVDA, quite possibly.

Terry: I wonder though Jonathan, since we have no information on accessibility, I wonder if there’s going to be any effort to make sure that all these hundreds of thousands of apps they hope will appear if any of them will even be accessible?

Matt: They’re going to be reviewed for security and family safety. We should push for them to be reviewed for accessibility as well.

Jonathan: UWP apps haven’t done that well with accessibility really have they?

Terry: No.

Matt: Which is disappointing because the whole point of UWP was to be a clean start in terms of development and a modern user interface framework and all of that. We as accessibility advocates have had the hypothesis for a while that if you give developers a rich enough user interface framework that has accessibility baked into it by default and a large enough set of predefined standard controls, that accessibility will just happen by default. Obviously, UWP is kind of disproof of that hypothesis.

Jonathan: What’s gone wrong? Why didn’t that happen, why didn’t that vision become reality?

Matt: I don’t actually know. I need to think about that. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you on that right now.

Jonathan: Yes, it’s intriguing. Now, this is the one that I’m very, very interested in, and I think it’s the most single commented-upon thing in the blind community anyway at the moment, and that is that Android apps are coming to Windows 11 through a partnership with the Amazon store. I’ve been talking to people who know their stuff about this. The most plausible thing I have heard is that, maybe, not immediately, but not too soon down the track, Microsoft will introduce some UI automation bridge to allow you to run the Android apps that way with your screen reader of choice. I wondered what you thought of that idea, Matt.

Matt: I hope they do it that way. I do think that’s feasible. I wish that they had done it that way for Linux GUI apps through the Windows subsystem for Linux. Unfortunately, for those apps, you have to run a Linux screen reader, meaning basically Orca on the Linux side, and then, of course, deal with the complications that come from having two screen readers running. I hope they do better for Android.

Jonathan: It’s unlikely the Talkback would just run on Windows 11, right?

Matt: That depends on how exactly the Android compatibility layer works. What I heard during the developer session yesterday is that this Android compatibility layer is based on the same virtual machine technology that they’re using in Windows subsystem for Linux. My understanding is they are actually running a version of the Android operating system in a virtual machine, but they’ve got some kind of customization going on so that the Android application can be displayed in a window as if it was just another application on your system.

It’s not like what you would get in something like VMware, where the Android operating system is running in a box, in a window, the single window for the whole operating system. Whether TalkBack would run in that environment, I guess depends on how heavily they’ve had to customize the version of Android that they’re using.

Jonathan: Are you jazzed about this Terry?

Terry: Well, I wouldn’t mind running Voice Dream Reader on my computer and having it sync with my phone, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Yes, this is what excites me because there are so many things I would like to do in Windows that I haven’t found a good accessible way of doing. My RSS reader is brilliant on iPhone, and I haven’t found anything that will sync to the same cloud service in Windows that’s accessible and keep all my feeds in sync across devices. Really, there’s no particularly good podcast choices in Windows, and on and on. If you could hook into Android and then pick a cross-platform solution, then, that might be very interesting from a consumer point of view anyway.

Matt: I’d be interested in seeing how this works from a technical point of view and in particular, how they handle accessibility. I honestly can’t think of any applications where I have a burning desire to run an Android app on my PC.

Jonathan: You see, for me, I can think of a number of solutions. The other interesting thing about this is the Chromebooks do this too. I’ve been working on a series that’s coming to a Mosen At Large near you on Chromebooks. I think that Chromebooks are the Cinderella of accessibility in the blind community. A lot of blind people just don’t realize how good Chromebooks have become lately.

They really are quite impressive. If you can run an Android app on a Chromebook and then run it in Windows too, it may well push more of the blind community to Android itself. If they could get their braille right, that’s a big showstopper for me. I’ve got some notes here about the summed up from Satya Nadella who’s such a cool guy. I really enjoyed the book that he wrote. He, I think, did a really inspiring job. I don’t know whether it moved you guys the same way that it did me.

Matt: There was one thing he said in there that I found offensive and how wrong it was.

Jonathan: Oh, okay, go on.

Matt: He said that the web was born and grew up on Windows.

That is wrong. The web was born on NeXTSTEP which is the operating system that was basically the precursor to Mac OS X. I guess it went through its toddlerhood and early childhood to stretch the analogy cross-platform because NCSA Mosaic was cross-platform, Netscape was cross-platform, and then arguably, Microsoft hijacked it. Yes, it did grow up on Windows, but I don’t take that as a good thing.

Jonathan: There you go, Satya, you have been castigated. [laughs] He did though, I think he articulated a really compelling value proposition.

Matt: Yes, so I’ll give you that.

Jonathan: Microsoft’s been pinged a bit for being boring. Many of us use Windows, we couldn’t live without it. I couldn’t do my job as efficiently without it, but Windows hasn’t been perceived as being cool, it’s just something that you use. What he talked about was how having the largest number of hardware options out there in their ecosystem meant that you could create or consume in the way that you chose to, that you weren’t locked into one manufacturer that was trying to completely control your user experience, and that Windows was the operating system that let you get on with stuff the way you want while they get out of the way.

I thought that’s pretty awesome actually, that’s one of the best value add descriptions of Windows I have ever heard.

Matt: Yes, that that has been historically true of Windows for a long time. I think that Microsoft and their zeal to beat or at least, match Apple at its own game have maybe lost their way a bit on that because going back to Windows 8, Windows has become somewhat more locked down. I guess, to some extent, that’s necessary for security, but Windows 10X threatened to go much further in that direction. I’m glad that to all outward appearances, that project has been shelved. Maybe they are getting back to their roots on that.

Jonathan: Terry, any closing comments before we open it up about the whole Windows 11 launch and Satya Nadella sum up?

Terry: I did have a couple of things. One was that a coworker and I were discussing this on Monday, which was before the actual announcement, but one of the things that intrigued me was the bench test showed 15 to 20% improvement in performance. Whether that’s true or not, that’s significant. The other thing was, and this wasn’t discussed at all, I did hear that one of the reasons they bought Nuance had to do with the medical transcription part of Dragon that Microsoft wants to move into the medical field in a really big way.

Matt: Well, and remember, of course, that Microsoft is much bigger than Windows, so this could have more to do with their cloud services than anything else.

Jonathan: All right, so let’s open it up, it is the witching hour where Matthew Horspool is, I hope he isn’t turned into a pumpkin before he gets to speak on Clubhouse. Hi, Matthew.

Matthew: Yes. I think I should be saying good morning if you [unintelligible 00:48:00].


Matthew: It’s good to be here. This has been a really interesting panel discussion, and thanks for letting us listen into it. There were a few things I wanted to comment on, and of course, I’ve now forgotten what they all are. The one observation that I wanted to make right back at the start, we were talking about, or you were talking about the BIOS and making BIOS accessible, and how on earth are we going to go and do this as a blind person.

I have successfully used Aira to make changes in the BIOS. They can tell you what is on the screen, and then they can also tell you what is selected on the screen. As you up and down arrow, they can see the selection change and tell you that the selection has changed. Then they’re remarkably patient.

Jonathan: They would have to be. [chuckles]

Matthew: I was given, I had a new computer. I bought the new computer but I had it with onboard audio turned off, and so I had to go into the BIOS to turn onboard audio on, and they were very, very patient and just went through the whole process with me and it all worked out. A hack that I was told subsequently by a friend of mine was what he has is a laptop with a USB capture card plugged into the laptop.

Then he plugs his desktop into the capture card so that when it’s in the BIOS, you can either OCR the texts that comes back which gives you a really nice clean feed, so to speak, or you could go on TeamViewer on your laptop, and then the person can see the capture card that way. That’s the way that he’s found to do it.

Matt: Now, what would really take that to the next level is if Microsoft or one of the Windows AT developers would implement something similar to Apple’s screen recognition.

Matthew: Yes. Well, I always thought about this, just a little box that plugs in. I’m sure doing it in software would be brilliant, but I always wondered why you couldn’t get a talking monitor, literally a talking monitor that you plugged in, to an HDMI port and it had screen recognition built-in and [unintelligible 00:50:27]

Matt: That could, that could. You might have just inspired a project for me to work on some time.

Matthew: Well, I’m glad I’ve done that because I really want it and I really don’t want to work on it.


Jonathan: Yes, a little red hen of technology. That’s what it is.

Matthew: Yes, that’s the one. If someone else wants to do it, they’re very welcome because I wouldn’t know where to start. Good luck with it and I’ll quite happily test it out for you if you want somebody to do that.

Jonathan: Thank you. Appreciate that, Matthew. Melissa, Hello?

Melissa: Hello. Thank you for having me. I hope you guys are having a good day. My thing was Windows 11 that I’m a little excited about is the use of the Android apps and I guess the ability for developers to add more to the store because one thing that has always disappointed me with windows is that there aren’t many writing options, and I’m a writer. On the Mac, you’ve got Ulysses, which is very simple to use, you’ve got Scrivener, and Scrivener is not accessible on Windows, you’ve got apps like Day One for your journaling, stuff like that just isn’t available.

Then there’s MarsEdit. There’s all these great writing apps on the Mac, but when you go to Windows, I have a blog, Windows Live Writer is a little tedious to work with, but it has been done. I’ve done it before, but it’s just the fact that there’s not that many writing apps other than like your simple Notepad and Word Processor and the occasional note-taking app or whatever, I just haven’t found the writing experience on Windows to be useful.

I’m mainly on the Mac and I have a Windows computer, sadly, I mainly use my Windows computer for gaming and things like TEAMtalk and stuff because all the stuff that I love to do writing and audio is primarily done on the Mac.

Jonathan: Wow. That does surprise me. What’s wrong with good old Microsoft Word then?

Melissa: Well, there’s nothing wrong with Word. I still use it. I’ll use it for my schooling when I write papers but the funny thing is I use Word on the Mac, [laughs] and plus I like the synchronicity with iCloud. I like just getting onto my Mac, opening Ulysses, and everything I’ve typed on my iPhone is right there. I wish there was a more synchronizing experience, more writing apps on Windows because that’s just the kind of person I am.

That’s what I would like to make more use out of. That’s why I’m hoping that with the use of Android apps, I don’t think there’s a screen reader for Android, I would have heard about it, but stuff like that, that you can easily use on your Mac and your iPhone and stuff. They have windows versions of it that either aren’t accessible or the Windows versions just don’t exist like a really good blogging software that you can–

Matt: I think that Microsoft should work on some kind of development tool that would allow Mac app developers to port their apps to Windows, so basically a compatibility layer that would allow Mac app developers to port their apps to Windows. They’re talking about Windows being able to run all kinds of apps now, and obviously, Apple would not allow Microsoft to enable Mac apps from the Mac App Store to run-

Melissa: No.

Matt: -on Windows, but I think that Microsoft could do something to make it easier for developers to move their apps over without getting into legal trouble.

Melissa: Yes.

Jonathan: I’ll tell you about my workflow, Melissa. I also love Ulysses. I think it’s just a wonderful app and it’s one of the ways I really like to write, but what I’ve done is I’ve set it up so that it saves Markdown files in a Dropbox folder. Then I have an application that is integrated with Microsoft Word that imports and saves Markdown. When I’ve written something in Ulysses, and I often do this, if I’m waiting for a meeting, I just work on a report or something like that, it’s saved in Ulysses, which automatically puts it in Dropbox and then I bring it into Word because Word now reads Markdown files with this add-on I got, and then I can just keep going.

It is seamless for me. The other thing I would say too about Word is that if you’re using a WordPress blog, if you copy a Word document to the clipboard and paste it in, WordPress is remarkable about taking all that formatting across, all your headings are preserved, everything just rocks. I got to say, and I’ve written quite a few books that Word for me in Windows is the best writing experience as a blind person that I have used, particularly with JAWS.

Melissa: I do use Word. Like I said, I’m not a fan of the ribbon, like you mentioned earlier. The ribbon is just argh [makes sound]. I’m not against using Word. I guess for me, I just prefer the– I’m curious about that add-on that you have because I never even heard of it.

Jonathan: It’s called Writage. Writage is what it’s called.

Melissa: Writage?

Jonathan: Yes. [chuckles]

Melissa: An interesting name.

Jonathan: It’s really, really good and I use it all the time. When you’ve saved something in Markdown, you can also bring it into apps like IA Writer on iPhone, which is another good writing app that’s on iOS.

Melissa: [sighs] Let’s see, when we look for writing apps, one of the things that I recently connected with a woman on Clubhouse who they have a small publishing press and she goes, “I have a lot of low vision people, they’re losing their sight and they want to write.” She said, one woman told her, “I feel like I’m running out of time-

Jonathan: Oh.

Melissa: -before my vision is gone and I don’t know how to write.” When I connected with her, she’s like, “Can you give me writing resources for Windows?” Most of them, I’ll be honest with you, come from iOS or the Mac because of just their simplicity because when you’re looking at people who are migrating to being able to use a screen and then having to use voiceover now or JAWS or whatever, for me, I mostly recommend Mac and iOS, which is sad because Windows is more readily available. I’m really excited about the App Store and the Android apps because I really think it’s going to open a world of possibilities for writers like myself.

Terry: I know Jonathan that this conversation is about Windows, of course, but one of the things that’s been an irritant for me for a long time is using Word or Excel to create HTM files that you want to port to a website and all the junk that-

Jonathan: Oh, yes, really bloated.

Terry: -Microsoft puts in. And you can’t export accessible tables and a lot of stuff just won’t do that. It’s really sad too because I don’t care about every font that is in my library, I only care about the font that I’m actually using.

Matt: Let me very briefly suggest a tool that you might want to look at. It’s a command-line tool, but Terry, I’m sure that’s not an issue for you in Mac.

Terry: No, it’s not. Pandoc?

Matt: Yes. Pandoc can convert between lots of different formats, including converting from Word to either HTML or a Markdown.

Terry: Thank you.

Jonathan: There you go. We’re all fountains of knowledge. Thanks for sharing that, Melissa. I really appreciate it. Great contribution. My hope is that we will finally see an end to the weird audio issues that have been plaguing Windows, particularly on laptop devices, where the audio device hibernates so quickly, that when you are trying to read with a screen reader, you get some of those words cut off and, of course, JAWS now [unintelligible 00:58:44].

Matt: Not as long as they’re trying to maximize their battery life specs.

Jonathan: Well, yes, there needs to be a choice. It’s ridiculously short. Luckily, there is that third-party utility Silenzio, and now JAWS has a feature built-in but, yes. All right, don’t get me started. Jesse is next. Hi, Jesse.

Jessy: Going back to pre-boot experiences and the void of accessibility news or lack thereof that Microsoft has left us in which your experience didn’t mirror mine. I was glad to see that I had looked for it and it just isn’t available. It wasn’t that I had missed it. They literally have not published anything about it, but one thing I did notice, which I’m concerned about is that they’re taking Cortana out of the first boot experience. I understand the purpose of that.

Obviously, if you want to batch installer, batch image computers, you want it to be quick, but I was very excited to have it in my only first boot experience of Windows that I’ve had in the very recent past. I’m hoping that there will still be some way to enable Narrator or something like that. I’m wondering what you all think about what they’re going to do.

Matt: Oh, I’m sure they’re not going to lose the ability to enable Narrator. The only question is whether there will be some kind of sound effect or audible indication that the out-of-box experience is up or whether you just have to guess.

Jessy: Like Mac says, “Oh, you can turn on your voiceover with this key in.” I hope they do something because I was like, “Oh no, it’s the accessibility of the pre-boot going away,” which was such an exciting thing to hear when at first– I only did it once and I hadn’t gotten the memo that it was now accessible. To hear Cortana come in and cheerfully tell me that she was ready to help is very exciting. I was a little disappointed.

Jonathan: Yes, I see sighted people celebrating with this, but this was one of the things that makes setting up a Mac, such a joy as well, because when you get to a certain point, that little thing, I think you have to wait a few seconds of not doing anything. Eventually, that really great voice comes on and says, ” welcome too,” [chuckles] and off you go. That’s slightly unfortunate.

Matt: Well, I happen to know that one of my former colleagues from the Windows Accessibility Team went over to the out-of-box experience team. Maybe he will push for something like that.

Jonathan: Thanks, Jessy. Any other thoughts on Windows 11?

Jessy: Not yet. I’ll just have to see what happens.

Jonathan: You’re going to install the insider build?

Jessy: I think I’m in the program. I believe I’m going to turn it off temporarily if I am in.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Jessy: I’ll have to double-check. I want to see what the buzz is and it’ll be interesting to see at my job whether they keep going with 10 for a while or whether they jump on board being a governmental agency, they’ll probably do the former but it’ll be interesting to see. I want to have, since we have no news whatsoever on the accessibility front, I don’t know if I want to be a guinea pig yet. If they had said anything, I would maybe try it, but since we don’t know what things will look like.

Jonathan: When Microsoft eventually breaks the radio silence, what do you hope they will say about Accessibility in Windows 11? Is there anything you’re particularly hankering for?

Jessy: I don’t need Narrator per se, because obviously there are plenty of other screen readers. I agree about the audio, although I do think Silenzio is doing a great job right now. I don’t find Teams particularly intuitive. I can certainly use it, but I think they should maybe make the keyboard shortcuts more streamlined and they should streamline UIA to cut out a lot of the chatter that we don’t need. Mostly simplify stuff.

Jonathan: Oh, you have pushed a button. This is one of the things that I find is that UIA is quite verbose and somebody at Microsoft I guess is deciding that blind people need all this verbiage. If a screen reader developer implements it as it is without giving a user the ability to customize what they hear or what they see on a braille display, in my view, it feels like they’re almost killing us with kindness because it’s just so much verbosity going on.

Matt: To be a bit nit-picky here, I don’t think the problem is UI Automation, per se. I think it’s just the conventions that the office and Edge Teams have decided to adopt actually implementing it.

Jonathan: Absolutely, I take that.

Jessy: It’s like having JAWS hints on all the time, except that they’re not actually JAWS hints. So whenever you land on a button, it says, “Press Enter to do this and go up.” You’re saying that’s actually code within-

Matt: Within Teams.

Jessy: -the OfficeSuite itself or Teams?

Matt: Yes.

Jessy: They should shorten that.

Jonathan: You’ve been around a while, Terry, if you don’t mind me saying. [chuckles]. How do you feel about the verbiage that we now get in windows? Do you think it’s actually a retrograde step?

Terry: Well, it’s an interesting question actually, because I saw a discussion you were in about this some time ago and I don’t get it. What I mean is, I don’t get the verbiage and I don’t know if it’s because I have my verbosity set to maximum, off I mean and I have everything like tooltips, almost everything is turned off. I don’t get a lot of verbiage. The annoying part for me when I use Teams is people putting those bloody text messages in the Window when you’re trying to listen to a presentation.

Jonathan: [laughs]. The verbiage I’m talking about is when, for example with Microsoft Edge now, which has switched from IAccessible II to UI Automation in the most recent public build. Now, when a page is loading, it says loading page and loading complete. Then when you press the button to go back, it says ‘going back’ and all that kinds of nonsense. I don’t want that.

Terry: I find the loading complete notification, in particular, annoying because very often, at least with NVDA, that notification will interrupt the screen reader’s attempt to automatically start reading the new page. It’s funny though because I actually like it. I don’t necessarily like it at home, but I do like it at work where we have SharePoint, which can sometimes take forever to load and it’s nice to know when it’s actually done.

Jonathan: I’ve got no problem with you liking it, I just want to be able to turn it off because I don’t like it and we’re not getting the choice.

Matt: Exactly. What I wish would happen with the loading notifications, in particular, is that Microsoft and, in particular, the Windows Accessibility Team that I used to be on would define some standard notification categories like loading started, loading completed, and then give applications a way to identify the type of notification so that if an application is firing a well-known standard type of notification, like loading page or loading complete, that the screen reader could choose to either do nothing if that’s your preference or play a sound effect.

?Jonathan: What’s interesting though, is that when you get the loading complete, it doesn’t always mean that you can move your arrow keys right away so it isn’t really complete?

?Terry: Yes, that’s also a good point because a lot of web applications these days are so heavy on the JavaScript that even if the browser is done with its part of the loading process, the application may have to run some hefty JavaScript processing to finish setting things up so, you have to wait a little longer for that to settle down.

Jonathan: See what you started, Jessy? See what you started?


Jessy: I think I did [unintelligible 01:07:26].

Matt: Don’t get me started on the whole thing about applications, about websites where you click a link and it uses some JavaScript to load the new page in place and either you get nothing or the best that can happen, which still isn’t very good is that the application does its own non-standard notification to tell you that you’ve landed on the new page.

Jessy: “Alert, alert”, yes. I do like the Edge notification that you can’t go back any farther because as someone who does open multiple tabs in web browsers, not a billion of them, but a few sometimes, I forget what page I’ve opened the tab to. If I keep going back and I eventually hear, “Oh, you can’t go back any further,” Then I think, “Oh wait, I’m at the start of this tab that I’ve opened. I can close this tab now because I don’t need it because I can’t go back to the page I want.”

I do like that one, but the other ones I can leave and my other remark on what you’ve just said, all of you is that I think I heard that Microsoft is doing a study right now about the possibility of using sounds instead of verbiage with certain browser notifications. I still would like the chance to cut them out altogether, but at least if you could choose a sound, that way [unintelligible 01:08:54].

Matt: Oh, we need the option because sounds obviously wouldn’t work for deaf/blind users.

Jonathan: That’s something they have in fact tweeted about, yes. If you go back into the @MSFTEnable Twitter account, you can find the link to the survey where they’re encouraging people to fill it out. I’m not sure if it’s still open or not. Thank you so much, Jessy. We appreciate your great contribution. Douglas, hello in Ontario, Canada.

Douglas: Hi, Jonathan. I’m hoping with Windows 11 and I’m not sure if it still exists like I haven’t seen it myself. I could just be missing where it is, but when applications had their own separate volumes, like JAWS, for instance, you could turn the volume down especially when you’re using a screen reader. If a screen-reader and say you’re in Zoom and it overpowers when you’re trying to listen to [unintelligible 01:09:44].

Matt: The pro-application volume control that you probably know from Windows 7 or Vista before that, definitely does still exist in Windows 10. I think it’s a bit buried now but I hope they don’t get rid of that in windows 11. If they do get rid of the application, that feature is from the, what I would say is, the more open era of windows where a third-party application could probably reconstruct it.


Jonathan: The mute button on the taskbar in Windows 11. Interestingly we didn’t talk about this, but there’s now going to be an option to mute your microphone no matter what application you’re in. Just so, because I guess video and audio conferencing has become such a big thing so that’s nice.

Douglas: Actually, now that you bring that up, it just reminded me. I’ve heard that the Start menu. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve been hearing some rumors that the Start button is right in the middle of the screen now, the start option, sorry.

Matt: That is true. The taskbar, which includes the Start button is still at the bottom of the screen, but horizontally the Start button and whatever application icons are there on the taskbar are visually centered. I have read a couple of comment threads where there were sighted people railing against that change because there’s a, there’s a classic rule or principle of visual UI design, which says that if you can put something in the corner, then it’s easier to move to it with the mouse because you just have to yank your mouse cursor down to the corner and your on the Start button or whatever.

Now that it’s centered, it’s not going to be as easy to hit with the mouse. I don’t care, I use the keyboard. Of course, there has been and of course, there will always be a backlash against user interface changes in Windows or anything really.

Terry: As I recall, Matt, wasn’t that actually part of what the windows X was supposed to do? This is not the first time that Microsoft has gone down that road.

Matt: Yes, the new taskbar with the centered icons does at least to my eyes look kind of like what they did in windows 10X.

?Jonathan: It’s been a really interesting discussion and, of course, there will be a lot more to say at some point when we get information on the accessibility of Windows 11, what might be coming later. Any final thoughts from you, Terry? I actually haven’t asked you this question cause you can answer it safely. What do you think or hope might come to Narrator in Windows 11? What do you think it needs?

Terry: Well, I would like to see it continue to evolve Jonathan, but one of the things that I would really like to see them do with Narrator, even though it’s built into the operating system is have its own update schedule because they’re moving to a once-a-year platform. I would rather not be waiting for it to improve. I’ve had experience in moving from Windows 10, 17 to 18 to 19 to 20, and each time we upgrade at work, Narrator gets better, but it only stays better until we do the next upgrade. I’d like to see it be a download for the old systems as well Jonathan and updated more frequently than just when Windows is.

Jonathan: Matt, have you got any final comments on Windows 11 before we wrap up?

Matt: Like I said, I’m apprehensive about the changes to the Start menu, but I will certainly be interested to see how the Android support works out and what the store changes mean for developers because, of course, I am a developer myself. I will be a guinea pig on the insider builds if there’s any way I can.

Jonathan: Wonderful, Matt Campbell and Terry Bray. Thank you so much for your thoughts on Windows 11. I’m sure there will be more to say when we find out about accessibility and Windows 11, and I really appreciate your insights. Thank you both. While that Clubhouse event was underway, Microsoft broke its silence to some extent, and I will read you the extent of what has been tweeted from the MSFT enable account.

It says, “Accessibility is essential to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Windows 11 is built, designed with and for people with disabilities. Coming soon, we’ll share more about what’s coming later this year. As a taster, we’re addressing top feedback to make Windows 11’s Accessibility, easier to find and use. We rebranded ease of access settings to accessibility. We redesigned them to make it easier to use. We have invested deeply in Windows 11 to make accessibility just work in more scenarios. For example, Office in the cloud is now accessible with local assistive technologies like Narrator. Windows 11 was designed to be accessible from the start, more details coming soon, we’re excited and we hope you will be too.”

That’s the full extent of what Microsoft has said at the time of producing this. If you go to the Microsoft Accessibility web page, there is not a word about Windows 11, and there’s no explanation in those tweets about why Microsoft was not, or is not ready to say more about accessibility in Windows 11 wouldn’t that have been great if as well as a special seminar for developers, there was a special seminar going into the weeds of Accessibility. It’s not to be, and we’re still left wanting other than that very specific and encouraging tidbit about Microsoft in the cloud. Watch this space. We’ll keep you posted.


Announcer: To contribute to Mosen At Large, you can email Jonathan, that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com by writing something down or attaching an audio file, or you can call our listener line. It’s a US number 864-60Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.

Voice: Mosen At Large Podcast.

[01:16:27] [END OF AUDIO]