Freedom Scientific have just announced that they are to release a public Beta for version 9 of Jaws. We’ll be able to download it from 1st October so I’ll be doing that and will report back. However here’s a flavour of what they are promising:
- A new startup wizard that will allow us to set those parameters that those of us who have been using Jaws for a while change straight away like start-up options (which the latest build of version 8 now does) and then speech settings, braille settings, and keyboard settings.
- copying from an HTML page will now copy formatting not just plain text – personally I prefer to copy the plain text then I can choose the formatting. However it might allow copying all of a table which could be useful I suppose. Watch this space and I’ll let you know.
- choosing whether or not the NumLock is switched off when Jaws starts. Up until now there was no easy way of changing this. Could be a nice feature for people who use the number pad for figures a lot.
- One feature that looks _really_ useful is what they are calling "Performing an Action Stated in a Balloon Tool Tip". You know when Jaws reads balloon messages like with AVG "your AVG settings need fixing click here to activate" but by the time Jaws finishes reading it the balloon has disappeared? Well they reckon you should be able to click with the Jaws cursor as soon as Jaws starts reading the message and it will click the balloon. If this works it will be a boon. I’ve been using Vista for a few months now and it seems to have even more of these messages than XP does. I will let you know my findings.
- It sounds like they have done an overdue overhaul on the the verbosity options (insert + v) dialogue. For a long time this has had fewer and fewer straight verbosity bits in it. They appear to be grouping options together which sounds very useful and calling it the AdjustJAWSOptions is more accurate. Watch this space, folks.
- Big changes for the Calendar in Outlook 2007, to make it more accessible. I don’t think office 2007 has reached many people yet, but it will soon.
- Jaws support for Windows Mobile Device Centre. If you haven’t come across this, it the Windows Vista successor to Active Sync for Synchronising all sorts of devices including Windows Mobile devices such as PDAs like the PACMate and HP Compaq iPaqs. (Still no sign of a pocket version of Jaws that you can buy separately from the PACMate, but that’s a topic for another blog)
- Better performance in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007. This I do look forward to. jaws is extremely powerful with Word, but that has come at a bit of a price in terms of responsiveness. It sounds like they have addressed this by completely overhauling the scripts.
- Jaws support for Gmail. GMail is Google’s web mail, It is free and has huge space for storing your emails without paying extra like you do with hotmail now. However, the interface is a bit clunky for use with Jaws. Could be a great benefit for people on the move.
As I say, the beta version is going to be download-able "During the week of October 1". I’ll be downloading it and reporting back over the next couple of weeks. If you want further information take a look at FreedomScientific’s page for the Windows 9.0 Public Beta.