Microsoft working to boost digital ink support across Windows, Office, Surface

Earlier today, we got a pretty good look at the upcoming touch-friendly versions of Office apps for Windows 8.1, thanks to a bunch of screenshots from a Microsoft Research video. Some of those images highlighted handwriting annotations in the apps which, alongside touch navigation and interaction, is an aspect of the user experience that Microsoft is increasingly keen to develop and promote. 

In fact, as Mary Jo Foley reports, Microsoft sees this as an area of such importance that it is striving to ensure that product teams across the company are working together to get it just right. While certain areas of Microsoft have already embraced digital ink and pen input as a core part of their products - examples include OneNote and the Surface Pro tablets, among others - a broader company-wide initiative aims to ensure even better integration of handwriting and ink support across Windows, Office, Surface and Perceptive Pixel displays. 

Mary Jo notes that a 'Cross-Group Inking' team was established in Autumn 2013 - one more example of the pervasive 'One Microsoft' initiative to ensure better collaboration and tighter integration of products throughout the company.

This unified 'One Microsoft Ink' strategy has already established shared design principles across numerous product families, and teams from across MS are continuing to work together on improving the quality of stylus input too, as well as the range of its implementation. As today's Microsoft Research video revealed, one result of this is expected to be broader and better-integrated digital ink support in Windows 9 (currently referred to by its internal codename, 'Threshold'). 

As Windows and Windows Phone also become more closely aligned, it seems inevitable that proper ink support will finally make its way to handsets as well - enabling Windows Phone manufacturers to better compete with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note devices. Don't expect that to happen too quickly though. 

Next week, Microsoft will unveil its long-awaited 'Surface mini', which will include extensive digital pen support, as we reported earlier this month. Paul Thurrott of WinSuperSite.com noted that the ARM-based device will "differentiate from the mini tablet competition by providing a very accurate and high quality stylus". 

Source: Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) | top image via Microsoft Research 

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12 Comments

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Ink support is awesome. Has anyone taken class notes in a fast paced environment with the surface pro and pen? I want easily writable and readable, something that's hard to achieve on my note 3. Is it any different?

suprNOVA said,
Ink support is awesome. Has anyone taken class notes in a fast paced environment with the surface pro and pen? I want easily writable and readable, something that's hard to achieve on my note 3. Is it any different?

There's a huge difference. Look up wacom technology.

Kai Y said,

The Galaxy Note series' S Pen is using Wacom technology. Wacom says so themselves: http://www.wacom.com/en/us/ove...13/1027-samsung-galaxy-note

You will need to use a Wacom stylus like the Bamboo to achieve the "Wacom feel" because a lot of the tech is actually in the pen in that it gives you very slight haptic feedback as you are writing to fool your hands into thinking that you are writing on paper. But this is no where near having a full Wacom digitizer.

john.smith_2084 said,
The pen was working fine in windows 7 I am using it since windows xp. The destroyed it in windows 8

how so?

itpro69 said,

how so?

Login to the wacom forms (the pen producer) and look at the mount of complains about the pen support in Windows 8, they even made videos on YouTube, and the wacom support is just pointing back at the issues in the Windows 8 API

The pen was working very well when Bill Gates was using it, IE 7 and 6 had tons of functionality for the pen support, then IE 8 removed some of it, and today whatever is left is just buggy

RIP Pen support

This is really good! I'm glad MS is bringing it back and Samsung needs to be thanked too (Good sales of their Note devices showed that consumers are definitely interested).

Going back to 2003 huh?

It'll be awesome if they get ink and stylus support fully implemented in Windows Phone. I've gone through WP APIs and there are mentions of stylus support. For example you can get cursor type: mouse, finger, or stylus. It reports mouse on phone even though it's finger though.