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Merlin's Guided Tour

Setting Up Merlin

To help me speak to you I need you to download some files and install them on your computer.  The files are produced by Microsoft and loaded from their secured servers.  You should not be at risk in completing these steps.  After you complete these tasks, you should be able to hear my voice.  Microsoft Agent technology may not be available unless you are using the Internet Explorer Browser.

We have briefly outlined some of the technical background here in case you have tried, unsuccessfully, to get Agents working before visiting CCS.  if you want to explore this in more detail visit the Microsoft Agent pages.  Microsoft also provides an overview of Vista changes.

There are several issues to consider when getting Agents to work on Vista, XP, or earlier windows releases.  Some of these are:

  • SAPI (Speech Software) Version - Principal concern
  • Defaults installed by Microsoft
  • Gender of Voice
  • Character Animations
  • ...


NOTE: Microsoft does not officially support Agent Technology in Vista.  The technology works, if configured correctly.  This can lead to Vista changing the Agent voice without checking the current settings.  The result can be a distorted voice or empty balloon.  We do resets at several points in our pages to compensate for this.  If we have missed a point then refresh your page to reset Merlin.

Vista Agent Support

You may not need to download anything, as at present SAPI 5.3 ships with Vista and Microsoft Agent is already installed.  You can download other MS Agent characters, but they will all use the default voice that comes with Windows Vista.  If you have installed a SAPI 5.3 male voice they will use that.  Your localization is restricted to your default.  Multilingual support has been discontinued.

Your Agent may sound different on Vista:

The default voice for Windows Vista may be 'Microsoft Anna', a female voice.  The MS Agent characters are male and will only use a male voice.  If there are no male voices on your Vista system, the Agent may not speak.  The voice quality without the L&H TruVoice Software is not acceptable to many.   If you used an Agent in XP you will notice this immediately.

The AT&T natural voices may not install on Vista.  Voices created with SAPI 5.1 and 5.2 may not work on Vista.  If you have installed the SAPI 5.1 SDK you should uninstall it, and only put on voices created for Vista with SAPI 5.3.

XP Agent Support

On Windows XP the voices for the MS Agent characters use SAPI 4. This must be installed with a separate add-on from Microsoft (see below).

If you are using Windows XP, and if you do not have the Lernout & Hauspie TruVoice speech engine (TTS) installed, then Merlin uses Sam (installed by Microsoft as default). Our site requires that you install the TruVoice engine (see below).

NOTE: Microsoft Agent technology may not be available unless you are using the Internet Explorer Browser.  You can use FireFox with the "IE Tab" add-on to view Agent sites also.  If your browser should support Agents, but does not function correctly, use the Information Icon in the page title area to send us a message.  We can try to help you.

What To Download

Download and Install these files on your Windows System, if you cannot hear Merlin.  Quit your browser and reboot your system to complete the installation.  If Merlin stops working after you add other software to your system, a reboot may be necessary to restore Merlin's supporting software again.  

We recommend you download the Bellcraft Deskbot Agent and enjoy it features, as well.  It is a great companion for your computer sessions.  It can perform a number of tasks for you. In some cases installing the Deskbot may resolve other Agent problems.  Use this installation as an alternative to the individual files 1. 2. 3.  If you have any problems with the Merlin character, the Merlin file is listed here separately for loading.  Getting your system going with Agents is normally straight-forward.  Download, install, and go.


Windows Operating System    Components to Install  (*problems load all three)
Vista 1, 2, 3 
XP 2, 3
2000 3
Me 1, 3
98/95 1 ,3
Non-Windows Not Supported

     1. Microsoft Agent core components (Core) (395 KB exe)
2. Microsoft SAPI (Speech API)  4.0 Runtime (1 MB exe)
3. TruVoice TTS engine - American English (824 KB exe)
Bellcraft Deskbot Helper Agent (5.12 MB exe)
Merlin Character (1.79 MB exe)

Last Updated on Monday, 21 March 2011 00:42  
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