Microsoft text to speech

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Alternatives on June 27, 2022
Microsoft reigns supreme in business, gaming, and everyday computing, but can Microsoft TTS live up to the hype?

    Text to speech (TTS) solutions have become an indispensable piece of assistive technology, helping countless PC users interact with the written word, be it for pleasure, school, or work. 

    As you can imagine, the TTS market is somewhat saturated, with dozens of apps and browser extensions to choose from. Most of them are quite helpful, and they will do wonders for your productivity and give you a more user-friendly experience. Today, we’ll focus on Microsoft’s TTS solution — Azure.

    What is Microsoft text to speech?

    What is Azure, then? To answer that question, we can pose another: Do you want the power to create content with natural-sounding voiceovers or listen to your favorite pages narrated to you, with a bunch of customizable parameters that will let you adjust speech rate, tones, pronunciation, and everything else? Microsoft Azure lets you do all that — and more.

    Azure is a cloud platform brimming with potential. In addition to Azure cognitive services that provide fantastic text to speech and speech-to-text solutions, you can make use of Azure cloud storage and analytics to take your productivity even further without the need to master any complicated machine learning.

    Being compatible with various open-source solutions, Azure is also rather flexible. Incorporating voiceovers into custom-built apps and allowing your target audience to reap the benefits of deep machine learning has never been easier, especially with over one hundred languages and language variants Azure will put at your disposal.

    How to use Microsoft’s text to speech app on your iPhone or computer

    Setting Microsoft Azure up on your device is pretty straightforward, and all it takes is a few clicks to sign up at the official Azure website. However, if your computer usage does not extend beyond the likes of Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Docs, and OneNote, you won’t have to download anything because those programs come with a built-in speech synthesis solution called Speak.

    While it might not be a high-quality speech service, Speak comes in handy when you’re in a pinch, and it’s super easy to configure:

    • Click on the Customize Toolbar option, click
    • Select the More Commands options
    • Click on All Commands
    • Find Speak, click on it, and then click Add

    Alternatives to Microsoft’s text to speech application

    As we’ve mentioned in the intro, text readers are a-plenty, ranging from professional apps that will blow your mind just with their pricing to barely finished speech recognition SDKs on GitHub. If Microsoft’s text to speech voice assistant does not sound like your cup of tea, or if you’re looking for some variety, we’ve got a few alternatives that will surely tickle your fancy.


    Coming in at #1 is Speechify, the top-rated TTS tool that will turn virtually anything into an audio file. It works with all Microsoft applications, and its speech models will leave you speechless. Couple that with great speech API capabilities, and you’ve got a versatile solution that will accommodate all your needs and use cases.

    Amazon Polly

    At #2, we’ve got Amazon Polly, a fantastic solution famous for its natural-sounding voices and plenty of speaking styles. It supports multiple languages, and its neural text to speech tech will give you plenty of customizable settings to play with whenever you want to add spice to your already authentic-sounding playbacks.

    Google Cloud Text to Speech

    At #3, there’s Google’s Cloud Text to Speech. Naturally, wherever there’s tech progress to be made, Google will be there, and the TTS realm is no exception. Google’s solution is all about speech synthesis markup language (SSML), and it works on a pay-per-character basis, so it’s both a useful and affordable choice if you’re working on a one-time project.

    IBM Watson Text to Speech

    IBM Watson takes the #4 spot. What sets Watson apart from the competition is its versatility in corporate environments. Namely, you can use it as a virtual assistant or a customer support tool and a text to speech solution. What’s more, it’s super affordable, so you won’t get a better deal elsewhere if you’re looking for something flexible.


    At #5, we’ve got one of the veterans — Readspeaker. With about a quarter of a century worth of experience, Readpseaker has got TTS down to fine art. It supports over one hundred languages, and it’s fantastic for speech studios and e-learning as it can work both online and offline.


    #6 is NaturalReader. This app does a great job with real-time synthesized speech, and it works with pretty much all apps you’re gonna be using on your PC. But, what earned NaturalReader a place on our list is its so-called reader mode that will purge your text of all unnecessary fluff, for example, advertisements.

    VoiceDream Reader

    At #7, we’ve got VoiceDream Reader, our last Microsoft Azure text to speech alternative for today. Unfortunately, while VoiceDream Reader is good for some simpler tasks, lots of users complain about a lack of accessibility and poor syncing options. But, if you need a quick solution and don’t care about the most advanced neural TTS and end-to-end tech, VoiceDream will do a decent enough job.



    Is Windows 10 TTS free?

    There are plenty of TTS solutions for Windows 10. Some of them are free, while others are not. The built-in Speak option that comes with Windows 10 and works in such as Outlook and Word is free, but more sophisticated solutions with custom neural voice options and other features, such as Microsoft Azure, require a subscription.

    What is the most realistic TTS voice?

    The most realistic TTS voices are typical of more advanced TTS tools such as Amazon Polly and Speechify. The levels of realism will depend on the language, the speech model, and the parameters of your choice.

    What is the difference between Text to Speech and Voice Recognition?

    While a lot of TTS programs offer both text to speech and voice recognition options, it is important not to confuse the two. Text to speech options will turn textual input into audio format, helping you engage with the text while you complete other tasks. Voice recognition, on the other, refers to an analysis of the human voice, either for the purposes of interpreting or identifying them.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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