Oct 27 2014

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13: Compatibility Troubles?

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 was recently released and Nuance is very proud to say that with each new release of speech recognition software it gets better with its accuracy and the performance increases. Nuance routinely refers to Dragon NaturallySpeaking as being able to be at least 3x more productive by using their speech recognition software.

As a user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the last 10 years, I can say without a doubt that using speech recognition software is an absolute benefit to creating emails, doing documentation, taking notes and any other task that requires people to write large amounts of information. With the latest release of version 13 Nuances speech recognition software, the latest release offers the greatest amount of accurate recognition of speech that can be offered to the general public.

Historically, I have used Dragon NaturallySpeaking and just about every application I can think of. It’s been immensely productive and it’s one of the must-have applications from my toolbox— until version 13.

Since Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 came out, are you running in to compatibility issues?

  • Yes (76%, 148 Votes)
  • I don't use Dragon NaturallySpeaking. (14%, 28 Votes)
  • No. (10%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 195

loading Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13: Compatibility Troubles? Loading ...

Version 13 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the first version of Nuances speech recognition software that I felt was more of a limitation than it was benefit.

I’m not sure that it’s Dragon users fault or if it’s Nuances fault for making the decisions that they do. I don’t know that Nuance views people use non-Microsoft applications has second-class users; not worthy of consideration. I wonder if Nuance takes into account that there are some people that like to use applications simply because they’re good applications, and not because they’re stamped with a Microsoft logo.

If you think applications like Mozilla Thunderbird, Lotus Notes, Evernote and pretty much any other text editor, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 now considers these applications noncompatible [without the dictation box]. These applications are now considered not compatible because they don’t have the text control feature that is looking for. With the previous version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking (12), you could’ve used these applications without any issues, but going forward to version 13 Nuances make decision that essentially their software is going to work or is not going to work.

The argument from Nuance seems to be that their customer base is complaining that Dragon NaturallySpeaking wasn’t working 100% with the applications they wanted them to. Beginning with version 12, Nuance made the move towards forcing customers to be compatible in trying to make the application/software more compliant. Nuance did this by introducing the use of the dictation box if the application you’re dictating into wasn’t supported by Dragon. But there was a caveat, there was a checkbox to continue to dictate without using the dictation box [which was the right thing to do]. There is still a large number of applications out there that are great and don’t have text control, but Dragon seems to work fine in them.

Since the release of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, from the time I reported it in my initial review of the software, I have been trying to bring more attention to the issue and to the decision that Nuances made not to support these applications.

I reached out to Peter Mahoney, Chief Marketing Officer & Gen. manager of Dragon. Then I went through Dragon product support manager, David Popovich. I’ve been participating in online discussions about Dragon NaturallySpeaking through Facebook pages and groups in LinkedIn, but I really haven’t gotten any traction, but I have gotten some acknowledgment from Nuance [Derek Austin] on the compatibility issues.

654 Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13: Compatibility Troubles?

Essentially the argument that Derek is making is that it Nuance wants to appease their customer base, they had to make a decision about the functionality of the speech recognition software. Although Dragon NaturallySpeaking, everything prior to version 13, would work in just about any application for dictation, but the fact that Dragon NaturallySpeaking was working in those applications, but wasn’t actually intended to was just a ‘at the time’ bonus feature.

Nuance contends that Dragon NaturallySpeaking wasn’t supposed to work in those applications, but it did. And the fact that Dragon NaturallySpeaking worked in those applications is why some people found the application so useful; because they could dictate into just about any application that they want to— irregardless of Dragon fully supporting that particular software package.

If you mainly use Microsoft office products with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, you probably won’t see any problems.

As I continued to nudge around and try to find somebody Nuance to inquire about this problem/issue, I was directed to Rick Brown which is the Dragon Product Manager. Rick essentially reiterated what Derek had put in his post from LinkedIn. Nuance had to make a ‘polarized’ decision with version 13 if they were going to work with applications or not work with applications; there wasn’t going to be a gray area with Dragon.

When I emailed Rick back and tried to emphasize that Dragon does not have to be polarized decision of being compatible or not; being able to work or not. It’s more of embracing the gray area that’s available, serving the public, informing them and letting them make a choice if they want to try Dragon with an application. If Dragon works fine with another software package, it should be allowed, if the customer chooses. It was Nuance makes the disclaimer that Dragon is going to do its best to be compatible, but it’s guaranteed, that should be fine. Rick acknowledged my email and said their may not be any thing he can do about it. I hope he can at least address it or discuss it with some other people Nuance.

Dragon is a software package all to its own, Dragon NaturallySpeaking caters to medical professionals, lawyers and high-end administrators, but also caters to people with disabilities, speech impediments or people who have problems translating thoughts to written form. All these customers consider Dragon NaturallySpeaking indispensable, and all the applications that they use may not be specifically from Microsoft, or may not have text control. They simply need the ability for Nuances speech recognition to translate what they say into a textual format; what’s been doing for the last 10+ years.

Anyone who’s purchased Dragon NaturallySpeaking knows that the software package is not exactly a purchase you make lightly. Purchasing a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking means that you’re making a conscious decision to be more productive and you’re willing to put in some serious time to make a product work for you. I would suspect that for large majority of people who use Dragon, and are not strictly using Microsoft products, they are probably going to run into some compatibility problems.

I personally had to downgrade from Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 to version 12.5 to stay productive. Unfortunately, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking and a wide array of applications. Version 13 took away my ability to dictate into all those applications and it affected my ability to be productive as I would normally. My frustration with having to use version 13 and the dictation box to use those applications was beyond frustrating. And for a person who’s been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for almost 10 years, to have that ability take away, was unacceptable.

It may be hard for some people to believe, but I was more willing to use an older version of Dragon, and be more productive, and to use a newer version and miss out on the greater recognition. In my defense, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 claimed a 99% accuracy rate.

Right now, and most important, what customers need to know about purchasing NaturallySpeaking 13 is that when Nuance says that you can be 3x more productive by using speech recognition, the packaging for that software should come with an asterisk. There should be some sort of disclosure letting potential customers know you can only be 3x more productive in the applications that are supported by Dragon.

If you have any thoughts, let me know…



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  • I have had virtually every version in one form or another since 1.0 (including the Legal Versions). Right now, Dragon is not meeting my needs because I need it to work within Scrivener for Windows as an integrated product. My disability makes working with the Dragon Pad impractical at best. Please, for the love of God, make dictation software that works with software for writers. It would seem like a no- brainer. But, then again it’s not all that predictable anywhere else either.

  • Here’s a link to the discussion on Nuance Support:

    Thank you,
    Larry Henry Jr.

  • My thoughts are along the same line as yours. We were having accuracy problems with V12 and upgraded. The dictation box is a pain and we might be better off going back. When I dictate into my iphone using siri it works pretty well so when I pay nearly £100 for a Dragon upgrade, I expect that to be an improvement, not a downgrade. I use open office and thunderbird and both need the wretched box – I hate Dragon for doing this

    • Sorry for the late reply. When I presented this issue to Rick Brown, Product Management for Dragon NaturallySpeaking he said that I thought they had made a ‘bad decision’, but what they really did is made a polarized decision to alienate a whole group of people for the purpose of trying to say Dragon NaturallySpeaking works or doesn’t; completely putting to the said ALL the customers that loved Dragon NaturallySpeaking the way it was.

      I don’t know if this was for any other reasons, but it could’ve been strictly predicated on trying to reduce their support calls. Either way, Nuance failed to engage their customers about this option before making it. And from my view, it’s backfiring.

  • Xenakis

    100% agree. Incompatability issues for DNS 13 makes this product completely useless. Will be reverting to prior release and returning my copy.

    • I’ve already seen reports of people with disabilities where Dragon NaturallySpeaking v13 isn’t working with Lync and OneNote and has caused serious impacts to their abilities to be productive. While they said they had tried to deal with it; it was too frustrating. They chose, like me, to be less patient with v13’s problems and chose to be more productive and downgrade.

  • William Fenlason

    It would be helpful if Dragon would update their programming white papers to more explicitly describe the interface requirements. It appears that the specifications may be incomplete and contain typos (i.e. it is EM_GETSEL, not EN_GETSEL, etc.)

    also see: http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2013/10/notes-guidelines-speech-accessible-html-dragon-naturallyspeaking/

    An explicit and accurate list of the Windows messages and notifications used (and other details related to recognizing an acceptable control) would be most helpful for those who are trying to enable DNS for a custom control.

    Dragon charges $5,000 for their programming development kit, but as a retired programmer that is beyond my reach.

    Larry, if you have contacts at Dragon, perhaps you could point out to them that having as many applications enabled for DNS is in their interest, and freely providing accurate and complete interface information is not in conflict with selling the development kit. They probably realize that version 13 is a step backward in that regard, and may be willing to be more helpful to in this regard.


    • William,
      Thanks for contact me first off. I’ll try to see if I can get this information over to them and possibly taken under consideration. But as far as making sure that Nuance knows that being compatible with a wide array of applications is important, I have stressed that about as far as I can. My disappointment with Dragon NaturallySpeaking v13 is beyond description. My decision to downgrade from a new version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, to an old version was a very sad day. I can only hope that Nuance understands how many users they are affecting by the changes they made with their latest release. When I presented my argument about being compatible with so many applications and Nuance making a polarized decision the way they did, the product manager simply said that he would have to take that under advisement. That typically means that there’s a 30/70 chance that something good might happen.

      I greatly appreciate your feedback.
      Happy Holidays!

      Larry Henry

  • John

    Dragon 13 is a huge disappointment. I was probably one of the first users of DragonDictate and since then have bought every upgrade which has been an improvement on the previous version. I have also recommended it to my friends and no doubt sold several copies for nuance.

    I expected and Dragon 13 to be an improvement on Dragon 12 but have discovered that I cannot dictate into Thunderbird nor into PowerPoint. I use these often and so it is both frustrating and unproductive to continue with Dragon 13 and I am seriously thinking about removing it and reinstalling Dragon 12 because of this to work properly.

    Let’s hope that enough people make their views known and that the management at nuance listen to their customers and upgrade the product so that it can work well.


    • I hear ya. I totally agree.
      My comments to Nuance were that they had made so much effort to engage customers and educate them on using Dragon NaturallySpeaking and v13 was like a slap in the face of their customers. Why make a decision like that when it’s going to adversely affect customer like this. Nuance has passionate Dragon NaturallySpeaking customers; they could’ve asked for input, they could’ve emailed customer a poll, but they made this decision without regard. I’m not confident changes will be made, which makes me think Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5 might be home for a while.

      With hope, Nuance will understand that there can be a grey area with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and you can have ‘it works perfectly’, ‘try our best’ and ‘you have to use the dictation box’.

      Thanks for your comments…

  • David Syber

    Cannot use FileMaker pro 11, there was nowhere in the literature that the program would not work on Vista 64, and I will be downgrading to 12.5 tomorrow and sending my disk back for a full refund and asking also for the cost of Windows 8.1 and the hard drive that I installed it on.

  • brente

    used Dragon for years without many hitches ungraded and quite honestly it sucks worse then 2 did, more and more I have found it easier to just use the keyboard so all I’ll say is good bye Dragon it was great to know you until you borked.

    • I agree that v13, it is faster to type. But 12.5, for me, is where Nuance peaked with speech recognition. I hope for changes with the next update.

  • Bill North

    In version 12.5 there was a checkbox that would allow you to dictate into unsupported applications with the disclaimer that some navigation, correction, and control functions might not work as expected. What a great idea! Can we please have that back?

    Nuance seems to have lost sight of the underlying value of DNS… It translates spoken word into written word. And it can do that essentially anywhere, in any application, with amazing accuracy, if allowed to do so. Perhaps not all the correction functions and other bells and whistles would work, but I for one can live with that.

    We should not make the mistake of thinking that the arbitrary limitation to supported applications has anything to do with Microsoft applications. OneNote and PowerPoint are great examples of Microsoft applications that are now unavailable for dictation because of the arbitrary limitation imposed by the upgrade.

    The cumbersome dictation box implementation is no solution at all, particularly for interactive and quick note taking applications. It is ludicrous for an application that purports to be a productivity enhancement application. It is simply unworkable for interactive communication. More and more of my clients require real-time online dialogue as part of our normal business communication – using one or another of the instant messengers out there. While I agree that not all of the command and control functions always worked, DNS was still a valuable productivity tool for that kind of thing until this release. Honestly, if there were another viable option I would drop Dragon NaturallySpeaking right now.

    • Good words, Bill. I concur with you on that.

    • Gerhard Jäger

      the strange thing is that in the German edition of NaturallySpeaking 13 there is still this check box that allows you to prevent the dictation box from coming up when you use unsupported applications, which I was told by a friend of mine, who use the software.

      • Yes; the checkbox is still there, but the behavior of using it is different.

        If the checkbox is ON, unsupported applications use the dictation box.

        If the checkbox is OFF, you MIGHT be able to dictate into unsupported applications, but you won’t have the ability to do any kind of formatting, corrections or commands on information that was just dictated. The other side effect is that Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13 won’t enter text into those applications at all.

        This was the point I was trying to make in the article.

        • Gerhard Jäger

          Thank you!!!

        • D Matalus

          In my case, I couldn’t dictate any text into my unsupported application (at all). DNS simply shows an error reading “Unknown text field” or something similar.

          • I found that happening to me as well. Not very happy with the latest update either. Nuance, on last update, doesn’t consider it something to fix. I am waiting on the next update to find out.

            Sent by Outlook for Android

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  • Gerhard Jäger

    There is one thing that is not really clear for me: are you forced to use the dictation box when writing in unsupported applications {for example in my case it’s most of the time scrivener) or do you have still the chance to dictate in scrivener {with all the known problems} without the dictation box? In version 12 you could disable the dictation box in the preferences, what about in version 13? This is a very interesting point for me, because I am thinking of switching from Dragon Dictate for iOS to Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows. And as I said before: I have worked most of the time with scrivener. And if I’m not able to dictate directly into that application, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is useless for me. Thank you for any answer!

    • In my experience with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, the application would support dictation in some unsupported applications, but you had no control over corrections, formatting or any other commands; and that’s if it worked. You can tell very quickly by looking at the check box [toolbar] in the top right-hand corner, if you’re using it, in Dragon NaturallySpeaking. if the checkbox is there, green, the application is supported and Dragon NaturallySpeaking should work normally. If the checkbox is there, but not eliminated, the application is not technically supported.

      I tried to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 for about two weeks, before I had to downgrade. Unfortunately, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking in an array of software packages, not just Microsoft. This presents a problem for me because I was using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 and enjoying the abilities to make corrections, use punctuation, formatting and using commands. With version 13, this is not possible in the same set of applications.

      In version 12, you could disable the dictation box and the application, for the most part would still work just fine with dictation. You may not have commands [like open file], but you still had commands for formatting, new lines, punctuation, etc. Version 13 took that away for me.

      I contacted Rick Brown the other day about Nuance addressing this issue with version 13. And although he acknowledged that this was a problem with Dragon, he also indicated that Dragon did not consider this to be a major issue. This translates into is a very good chance that Nuance is not going to fix this problem and that going forward this to be a problem for a lot of people.

      I’ve actually been very surprised that my website is the only website that I’ve seen where I’ve actually reported the problem in the initial review of version 13. No other websites offered a review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 that mentions this problem. All the other websites simply want to talk about how great it is and how great the recognition is and how much faster it is.

      It’s true; Dragon version 13 is faster and the recognition is better, but it’s not as compatible with applications as it was with version 12 [and before]. I make a conscious decision to be more productive with speech recognition in just about every application that I use that upgrading to version 13 and being limited to what I can use the application in.

      I can only hope in the future the Nuance makes a conscious decision to understand the needs of their customer base, makes a slight adjustment, and correct the problem that they have right now.

      I hope this helps…


      • Gerhard Jäger

        Thank you! Do you have any email addresses of people I could ask if they intend to put full text control to scrivener in near future? Also I might get no answer

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  • I can’t believe this. I actually bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, and a few weeks ago, the new Dragon Professional Individual (14), but just realised that if I downgrade from my current Dragon Professional Individual (14) to Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5, I will be able to get Select-and-Say functionality in my Java translation program (which I currently don’t have in the latest versions). THIS IS SO, SO ANNOYING AND STUPID. I want my money back, and will be downgrading to 12.5, the last version that still worked. Dragon 13/14 basically only work with MS Word, Notepad and IE!!!!! This is insane. I use like 40 different programs in my professional work as a translator, NOT THREE.

    Does anyone here know how much worse recognition actually is in 12.5, compared to 14? I am using a good mic (3-in-1 TableMike) and am currently using a profile with: Far Field_Best Match V_Vocab Large, and am getting great results.

    Is there anything else important that I would have to forgo by downgrading?

    Michael Beijer

    • I feel your pain. I really do. My early conversations with Dragon NaturallySpeaking product manager was less than productive. To the point he didn’t care or seem to understand the problem that Nuance had created.

      I, like you, use many applications, not just Microsoft ones. I was completely crushed by the lack of Support by Nuance on this issue.

      I downgraded back to ver 12.5 and I had absolutely no regrets in doing so. Performance from 12.5 to 13 is noticeably better, but 12.5 was still very acceptable. Recognition in v13 is good but negligible in comparison to 12.5. v13 is noticeably more responsive, but less compatible. It took my productivity to almost zero. Very frustrating.

      DPI v14 has been released, the dictation box option is there, but far from perfect. Sadly the use of DPI in browsers is sorely lacking as well. I find v12.5 is still more solid than 14 on being compatible with more applications.

      Here’s my latest review of DPI v14.


  • Arminator

    This is strange. I don’t seem to have ANY (new) incompatibility issues with v.13 as compared to v.12 (German version).

    I can dictate almost anywhere in almost any program. Of course, in many apps, there still is no Select-and-Say — but this is the same as it ever was.