In 2014, I wrote all about how big of a deal the Window-Eyes and Microsoft Office partnership was going to be. It would change the game, I said. Freedom Scientific would need to re-evaluate the way it does business. It was time to celebrate or at least be very optimistic about a huge increase in the availability of affordable access software for the blind.
Well, today I stand before you a humble man. A humble man who can admit when he’s wrong. Because boy oh boy, did I ever miss the fuckin’ mark on that one.
In the years since the big announcement, a few things have happened. GW Micro, the makers of Window-Eyes, was purchased by ZoomText maker AI Squared, which for those who don’t know is basically the JAWS of low vision screen magnification. Skip ahead to 2016 and AI Squared is bought up by VFO, a firm that I believe is determined to own every blind thing on earth. I say this because it also owns Freedom Scientific, which for those who don’t know is the JAWS of JAWS.
All of that being the case, something had to give. It always does when smaller companies become bigger companies. And what gave in this case was the free screenreader with Office offer, because how are we supposed to make great gobs of money just giving shit away, amiright? If you think that last sentence is me being too harsh, then observe the hearty fuck you given by VFO to its valued Window-Eyes and Office customers in the announcement below. Basically, everybody gets free or at least discounted JAWS…except you, ya freeloaders. You get to contact a dealer and pay full price, which in another example of my crystal ball being a piece of shit is still friggin exorbitant.
If you would still like or still need a very good and constantly improving screenreader that is free of charge, now is a good time to give NVDA a try. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough that I’ve been using it almost exclusively for better than four years and regularly donate to keep it going even though there’s no requirement to do so. It, I feel confident saying without any fear of being mistaken, really has been and continues to be a game changer.
Ai Squared – Window-Eyes – JAWS Migration
Thank you for being a valued member of the GW Micro and Window-Eyes family. We regret to announce that sales of Window-Eyes have ended in the United States and Canada. Users outside of the United States and Canada should contact their local distributor for options. We are committed to our customers and will honor existing product purchases and software maintenance agreements, and we will continue to provide technical support to end users that have purchased Window-Eyes or a support package. All users who are currently using Window-Eyes can continue to use the software indefinitely; however, as the Windows® operating system and/or applications change over time, Window-Eyes may not function adequately for your needs.
We understand how important a screen reader is to you and are offering JAWS® for Windows 18 as a replacement. We are committed to providing a smooth transition and will honor existing Window-Eyes product purchases and software maintenance agreements, as follows.
- End users that paid for and are current with Window-Eyes 9.x will be converted to JAWS 18 at no charge.
- If you are using an earlier version of Window-Eyes, you can purchase an upgrade to JAWS 18.
- If you are using the free version of Window-Eyes you can continue to use it. While there is not an upgrade path from the free version, if you are interested in purchasing JAWS, please contact our sales team at 800-444-4443.
- Existing Window-Eyes SMAs will be rolled into the JAWS SMA program for end users that migrate to JAWS.
Detailed upgrade and SMA pricing information is provided below.
To make this process as easy as possible, we ask you to complete a simple web form that will go directly to our sales team, who will then contact you with an authorization code for JAWS 18, or request additional information if necessary.
Requests for upgrades must be submitted at http://www.gwmicro.com/window-eyes/migrateform or by phone at 800-444-4443 by July 31, 2017. Note, the free Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office version is not part of the conversion program.