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Ask Slashdot: Should You Upgrade To Windows 10 For Accessibility Features? 110

BarbaraHudson writes: Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free screen reader that is only available for Windows and comes with lots of features for people with visual handicaps. NVDA recommends to delay moving to Windows 10 because of problems with the Edge browser, PDF reading, Cortana, and applications designed for the Windows Store. There's only a few weeks to "upgrade" to Windows 10. My question is, does Windows 10 have compelling reasons for the visually handicapped to switch to it that are worth putting up with these (hopefully temporary) problems? Please note that NVDA doesn't require an internet connection to work; any Windows 10 assistive technologies that require one are a minus because they can leave the user high and dry with no notice. By the way, I've tried the KNOPPIX Adriane Audio Desktop and unfortunately it's really not there yet in comparison. Microsoft did highlight several accessibility features in the Windows 10 Anniversary update. Some of the features include faster text to speech, improved keyboard navigation, verbosity, AutoSuggest results, and support for more languages. In many of the core Windows 10 apps, Microsoft has made changes to Microsoft Edge, Mail, Cortana, and Groove to provide various features like modern web accessibility standards, improved account setup experience when using a screen reader, more reliable search and navigation functionality when using a keyboard, and better support for high DPI scaling and high contrast. There are also new accessibility resources available to developers, including an updated Visual Studio App Analysis tool to make it easier to find and fix accessibility errors, and support for Mnemonics in the Universal Windows Platform to help developers more easily provide Access Key customizations.
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Upgrade To Windows 10 For Accessibility Features?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    will be the day they pry 7 away and force me to use that bloated piece of spyware/advertising filth that is Windows 10.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Meh, I'm not so attached to an OS that I'd put my life on the line for it. Classic Shell helps make it more usable, and it does come with some security improvements.

      As for Windows OS of choice, if I did have to upgrade, I'd go with Windows Server 2016 when it goes GA. Windows Server 2012 R2 works quite well as a gaming platform, and it ships with everything disabled. Want desktop stuff, you can turn it on after installation. As an added bonus, wbadmin isn't the crippled, worthless version that is found

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        As for Windows OS of choice, if I did have to upgrade, I'd go with Windows Server 2016 when it goes GA.

        I guess $500+ (based on 2012R2 pricing) for an OS is reasonable. But price aside, I think I'd still go with a systemd infested Ubuntu before installing any MS spyware.

    • by The Real Dr John ( 716876 ) on Friday July 08, 2016 @08:24PM (#52475395) Homepage

      4 years is a long time, and considering that Windows 7 still has about 50% market share, Microsoft has some serious work to do to convince businesses and home users to switch to a service that does not offer significant advantages to Windows 7 users, and has lots of downsides. None of the features added to Windows 10 are of any interest to me at this point. Even Direct X 10 isn't a draw yet. I have 6 machines running windows 7 and none will be upgraded until Windows 10 offers me more control, rather than less. I don't want a service, I want a functioning OS. I am using Windows on computers, not phones, and I don't need it on phones. Microsoft has hundreds of millions of Windows 7 users to convince, and they are doing an exceptionally poor job of convincing them based on "features" (like forced updates).

      It is going to be a tough sell to get the other half of Windows users to switch when the new, service based OS has so much baggage.

      • 4 years is a long time, and considering that Windows 7 still has about 50% market share, Microsoft has some serious work to do to convince businesses and home users to switch to a service that does not offer significant advantages to Windows 7 users, and has lots of downsides. None of the features added to Windows 10 are of any interest to me at this point. Even Direct X 10 isn't a draw yet. I have 6 machines running windows 7 and none will be upgraded until Windows 10 offers me more control, rather than less. I don't want a service, I want a functioning OS. I am using Windows on computers, not phones, and I don't need it on phones. Microsoft has hundreds of millions of Windows 7 users to convince, and they are doing an exceptionally poor job of convincing them based on "features" (like forced updates).

        It is going to be a tough sell to get the other half of Windows users to switch when the new, service based OS has so much baggage.

        Not to mention that they are soon going to be expected to pay for something that was previously free. Yeah, good luck with that.
        I upgraded my windows 8 box to get the start menu back. Luckily it went ok. I also upgraded a windows 7 laptop I had. It took about 10 attempts before it finally completed successfully. My mom and my aunt's boxes both auto upgraded and both died a horrible death. My aunt's computer flashes every second as soon as she logs in and my mom's computer only shows a cursor after she

      • The convincing comes with much better hardware compatibility. I installed Win 10 on several AMD based systems and in random order sound, video, and networking stopped working even while streaming a movie fine for minutes already. Many peripherals that I have are no longer supported in Win 10 although they are only around 3 years old. Biggest issue is the dysfunctional UI. The UI is made for mobile devices and that just sucks on a desktop. I also loathe the ribbons, they waste too much screen space and have
        • Yeah, MS thinks that phone toys and desktop power systems (gaming, non-linear editing, content creation) are somehow exactly the same, and therefore need a similar toy interface meant for a 4 inch screen. Not sure why they are thinking that one size fits all, when it clearly doesn't. They are focusing on toys, not serious computers, and that means that serious computer users are not going to make the switch. On top of that, their heavy handed tactics in trying to force WX onto every computer through updates

          • Yeah, MS thinks that phone toys and desktop power systems (gaming, non-linear editing, content creation) are somehow exactly the same, and therefore need a similar toy interface meant for a 4 inch screen.

            Does an 10-12 inch laptop with a touch screen more closely resemble "desktop power systems" or "phone toys"? There are arguments for both:

            Like desktop power systems
            The screen is big enough to hold two 80-column text editor or terminal windows side by side. And the screen is also big enough for small windowed "accessory" apps, as proven by "desk accessories" on the single-tasking operating system of the original Macintosh with a 9" black and white screen. (DAs ran in the running application's process; MultiF
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          I installed Win 10 on several AMD based systems [...] I would not count on the NVDA tool to work on Win 10 any time soon

          That makes me wonder: Why does NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) share its name with NVIDIA's stock ticker symbol?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Should we widen our arses for purposes of accessibility?

    Depends on what you want.

  • No (Score:5, Informative)

    by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday July 08, 2016 @07:00PM (#52475003)

    No.

    • More specifically, "no if you have some eye sight, enough to do common tasks through a combination of memory and site." My primary visually-impaired client knows that to do a certain routine task, he clicks the upper left menu, selects the first option, sets the select box to item #2, then clicks the submit on the lower right. He can't easily read the text on these UI elements, but knowing what he's looking for and where they always are, he can find them. People with good eyesight can probably relate to h

  • It's not a hard calculation.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Friday July 08, 2016 @07:12PM (#52475067)
    As in Microsoft accessing your personal information and computer habits and selling it to the highest bidder.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Indeed, Windows 10 improves Microsoft's "accessibility", of your system to them.

      • by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Friday July 08, 2016 @08:31PM (#52475431)

        Indeed, Windows 10 improves Microsoft's "accessibility", of your system to them.

        That's an understatement. If you buy/get a PC with MS Windows 10 already installed I would be very surprised if any of the privacy settings were turned off. Even installing from ISO (can download from Microsoft for free) you should never just click on the "Express Settings" and instead, opt for the "Customise". If you do select the "Express Settings" all security settings are turned on by default so you will need to customize later and except for the more technically oriented most people won't do this. Yes, the "I have not got nothing to hide" mentality is alive and well.

        Even if you are fairly IT technical you still have to fiddle with Registry and while there are third-party applications that can help, you have to ask the question "Do I really trust them". Even if you think you have locked down (good luck) your system it only takes an update from Microsoft to turn some security settings back on.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday July 08, 2016 @07:19PM (#52475101)

    For the visually handicapped to switch to it? Yes. They won't have to look at it.

    • That's an interesting feature. I always thought Windows 10 was aimed at the mentally handicapped crowed rather than the physically handicapped.

  • I saw a visual studio reference in the summary.
    Why do the blind need a GUI? Or a monitor for that matter...
    Well three things then.

    • The only mention of Visual Studio was in the block of text added by the editors. However, to answer your question, not all visually handicapped people are 100% blind, but it can be a real PITA to try to use a screen all the time, no matter how large it is, to the point that most of the time it would be easier to just use a screen reader.

      And then sometimes you want to show things to someone or they want to show you something, and they can't use the computer without seeing what they're doing.

      I wonder how mu

  • The link to Paul Thurrott doesn't really answer the question - it's just a copy of the generic new feature list in the anniversary update, with no information about what parts need the Internet to work, or whether Edge has now been fixed to work with other screen readers.

    NVDA has had the "new" features like speech "up to double the words per minute" for quite a while, and there's no indication that Edge will work with screen narrators other than Microsoft's. (sigh)

    • Lol, "Edge", the little browser that couldn't.

      When I tried it, it crashed half the time I tried to visit slashdot and would politely inform me that it had "stopped working", then try and reload the page. And then it would crash again, and again, and again. After several iterations of that crap I'd close it and use Firefox.

      And it wasn't just slashdot, it was a slew of sites that caused it to barf and reload, barf and reload, barf and reload, barf and reload....it couldn't even render Yahoo's front page witho

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All in all, I'd have to say that Windows 10 is far better at making your computer accessible to Microsoft than making it accessible to the user.

  • This is probably the first of an ongoing series of "articles" subtly prodding laggards to move to the wonderfulness of Windows 10 data harvesting.
    • Absolutely not! I turned off all updates a couple of months ago to prevent "accidental" upgrades. I just want to know if anyone has any experience with the accessibility of Windows 10, does it offer anything not already in the NVDA screen reader program. If not, no "upgrade" - which is why "upgrade" is in quotes in the original post.
    • Yup... a new category should be created: "Ask Slashvertisement"

      • other "articles" that were obviously written by covert PR drones:

        >"Microsoft's newest desktop operating system comes with a range of interesting features"
        >"[it's] fiscally conservative [to upgrade]"
        >Windows 10 skeptics are subtly portrayed as being scared of all things new
        https://tech.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]
        Followed by a good dose of sock puppetry.

        >"Windows 10 offers a range of interesting features including virtual digital assistant Cortana. While these features and a substantial boost to performa

        • Please read the OP again. If the KNOPPIX build for the visually impaired had worked, I wouldn't have asked about Windows. I don't like Window's case-insensitive file system, it's a big pita and a relic from the days of DOS when command.com would search/run for files without respect to case.

          So it's either NVDA or Windows 10. And if Windows 10 doesn't have the features to replace NVDA, forget it. I just want to know if it does before the deadline, that's all.

  • They don't allow Enterprise or any version of Windows besides 7 or 8 iff it isn't one of the editions they exclude. I don't know anyone that is allowed to upgrade to 10. I want to upgrade, but everything I have is running 7 Enterprise or Vista Ultimate. It sucks that Microsoft has released a new product that is better, but they don't allow the vast majority of people to upgrade to it.

  • Asking this crowd for advice about Windows 10 is a waste of time.

    This is where you need to go: NVDA Community Add-ons: Windows 10 App Essentials [nvda-project.org] Last updated June 18. But allow me to suggest that accessibility is something that Windows does quite well and a free upgrade to Win 10 is not something to be dismissed lightly if you are at home in the Windows environment.

    • I included the link from NVDA warning about compatibility problems with 10, which is why I'm asking if 10 is a better solution. If NVDA were available for other systems, I wouldn't be using Windows any more. It came with the machine, and the screen readers under linux are buggy buggy buggy.
    • by t0y ( 700664 )
      Good advice. Poor OP is following up comments and not getting much help other than the usual drivel.
  • Hello. My idea is not to upgrade to Windows 10. I am currently with Windows 8.1 ... When is the FINAL day that we should upgrade to 10? Does anyone know this?
    • July 29th. After that it will (maybe) safe to turn updates back on.
    • You can upgrade now and then roll back. Then you have Windows 10 license "locked in". There's no authorization code anymore, instead it saves your machine identification in its database.

      Make a backup first though. And make sure it actually works if you can. I screwed up and did a Windows 8.1 image backup. Then it turns out I can't recover from it because I don't have a recovery disk, and I can't make a recovery disk because of screwups along the way. Originally it was windows 7, then upgraded to windo

  • Ask Slashdot: Should You Upgrade To Windows 10 For Accessibility Features?

    Should I upgrade? Or do you mean "you" meaning you?

    Wait, who's asking the question?

  • I'a,m blind amnd I'msa writtngb htois on my win0sws labtop righjt onow!

  • No, they scrapped RDP access on the home version of the OS which is LAME. Kinda defeats the idea of "Accessibility Features".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Windows 10 upgrade will continue to be free post July 29 for people who use accessibility features...
    https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/accessibility/2016/05/06/accessibility-and-the-windows-10-free-upgrade/

    • And how are yo supposed to prove it after the deadline? Someone else asked the same question, and all they got were "keep an eye on this blog as we get closer to the deadline." In other words, they haven't figured it out and are winging it. I don't trust them all that much, and it's stuff like this that fuels the distrust.
  • It's an irrelevant question. If someone was visually handicapped they almost certainly wouldn't have been able to avoid being automatically "upgraded". It's hard enough for non-handicapped people to avoid the "upgrade".

  • Microsoft has already announced that Windows 10 will continue to be a free upgrade for people with accessibility options turned on, even after the deadline for everyone else. As long as they don't rescind that, I'd personally wait until Win10 is fully compatible, rather than jumping the gun.
    And, for reference, I'm someone who highly recommends the upgrade for standard users.
  • As I have said in prevoius posts, Do a full backup of your system that allows Bare-Metal recovery. Then do an In-Place update to Win10. Now your machine's "fingerprint" is in Microsoft's database.

    Restore your previous OS. Voila! Free upgrade, and you can keep using your older OS.

    But, while I am no expert in accesability, none of the problems that NVDA lists are unsurmountable, as there are workarounds.

    EDGE BROWSER: InternetExplorer 11 is still included and installed in Windows10, is just not the default. Ju

    • I did a full image backup in 8.1. Turns out I can't restore from it now matter how I try. I think the upgrade from 8 to 8.1 removed some files needed to create a recovery disk, according to some online forums; I tried all the other workarounds to get it working but no luck. Can't use Windows 7 or 10 restore options etiher. Got an 8.1 restore disk made on a different computer which does actually run but it can't find my backup image even though the drive is attached and there's no option to browse for it

  • This will preserve your ability to install Windows 10 on that computer in future, when A11y features are sorted out or you really need new functionality.

    Though from your description, problems are mostly in new functionality that is in addition to apps that you currently use. For example, Windows 10 still has classic Internet Explorer. Consider keeping the upgrade for a week or so and seeing what you miss. You have a month to rollback.

  • One positive thing - I've got to see my parents a lot ever since MS Windows 10 ended up on the laptop they only use for web browsing and skype.

    It seems that one update or another or just sheer fragility really fucks things up on average about every two weeks and it needs serious stuffing about to get it going again. The thing doesn't have much memory so never should have got MS Windows 10 on it in the first place and that's probably why it keeps playing up.

    Sorry folks - that's the only positive thing I c
  • Here are your options.

    1. Upgrade to Windows 10.

    This is the option for those of you that wish to keep on using Windows. It may not be the option you want, but face reality. Windows 7 (and 8.1) is, at this point, deprecated (as opposed to XP, Vista and 8.1 which are considered obsolete). Now you can fight this kicking and screaming but it won't change the fact that Windows 7 is deprecated. And that means at some point in the future it will no longer be supported. Imagine installing Windows XP today, on your n

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