Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009: 6. Windows 7

We're continuing our year-end look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2009. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon, Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog, and the Fred's Head Companion's Michael McCarty to help create our list. We'll present one item every day through New Year's day, when we'll reach number 1. Today, it's all about Windows 7, baby.

When Microsoft released Windows Vista, much attention was given to the response given by screen reader developers, creating access to the new operating system on the same day as its release. This time, access actually beat the release date by a mile. Brave blind users, and yes we know of a few of them, were able to download release builds and betas for Windows 7 and successfully use them with current versions of their screen readers. Granted, the changes from Vista to Windows 7 are not as big as the differences between XP and Vista. But credit here should be given not only to the screen reader manufacturers, but also to Microsoft who has grown much more willing and hospitable to working directly with these companies, enabling them to create a product compatible with the latest and greatest OS.

According to Ranger, the bigger story is the fact that there is a full Screen magnifier in Windows 7. If you do not require a Mirror Driver from another program, you could avoid traditional Assistive Technology companies all together if you have minimal vision loss. And with Speech Recognition in Vista, a full screen magnifier in 7 does that mean we see a Voiceover makeover in Narrator’s access in Windows 8? We will know when the beta cycle begins for the next version of Windows in 2011.

While Windows 7 gained the bulk of the media attention, the latest version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2010, is also usable by the blind and visually impaired, keeping doors open for those in technically-minded careers. Windows 7 and the response by all of the major screen reading programs is number 6 on our list.

View more of the Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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