Windows 8 to feature revamped handwriting support

Microsoft has always loved handwriting input, and even though their fake-pen based tablets were first to market running Windows XP, the iPad still overthrew them due to Windows' inability to wow consumers. 

Now, it looks like Microsoft's been working mighty hard to please those that just love using a pen and paper with Windows 8, offering a revamped metro-style handwriting interface in the consumer preview. As seen in the screenshots below, it's not like Windows XP or Windows 7's implementation.


Windows 7 handwriting support

Windows 8 handwriting support

We wondered if Microsoft planned on using handwriting support with just fingers, but it looks like they're implementing it for use with a pen, if the icon in the lower right of the image is to indicate anything.

The Consumer Preview isn't far off public consumption, and we're excited to get our own hands on it. How about you?

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This is what I'm looking for in a tablet for school: the ability to efficiently take notes. I know Steve Jobs hated a stylus with a passion, but he never invented anything to take its place. Fingers? No. People want to take notes on these devices like they do on paper. Writing with your finger is hardly intuitive. I hope Microsoft can come through with something amazing with Windows 8 and tablets. I'll pick one up immediately!

BTW

Anyone that hasn't used Vista/Windows 7 handwriting, go to Youtube, and search for Vista or Windows 7 handwriting.

Since Windows uses 'ink' as the medium, it sees strokes, tilt, angle, pressure of the strokes, and uses this to 'infer' what the user meant even if it isn't human legible. It is rather impressive when it can take doctor like handwriting that just looking at the pen strokes you couldn't guess what it was, and Windows converts it to text just fine.

(Also since it is ink, Apps that support Ink, can save the information that keeps the stroke information, the image, and the text it recognized. This is why the Microsoft Office open format was important to a lot of companies, as the 'added' zip attachments to the other Open Office format destroyed this information as nothing was in place to preserve it between Applications.)

I have been in this game a LONG time, and I can honestly narrow "Apples ability to Wow" the consumer down to two things. Smooth responsive scrolling, and pinch to zoom.

Apple is guilty of possessing common sense in the face of the complete idiosy of the competition. So so sad that MS took SO long to pick up on that. I'm glad the other companies are still morons.

Um, in Windows 7 you can Dock the input panel to the bottom of the screen, and then it works and looks a lot like the Windows 8 panel...

It is weird that Microsoft has to specifically show people how to click a button or they don't believe the OS has the feature.

Now I don't think this is going to REPLACE the Windows 7 handwriting support but COMPLEMENT it and therefore for Metro UI, it's a nice development as long as the desktop UI is still intact. People need handwriting recognition in both worlds.

xpclient said,
Now I don't think this is going to REPLACE the Windows 7 handwriting support but COMPLEMENT it and therefore for Metro UI, it's a nice development as long as the desktop UI is still intact. People need handwriting recognition in both worlds.

Well in the developer preview this IS the new tablet input panel, the Windows 7 style one was gone. The new one looks like metro and has keyboard, split keyboard, and handwriting recognition. It is docked by default but can be undocked and moved around.

it's not really handwriting recognition. it does not recognize scripts. it recognize strokes. therefore limited to latin only. no greek, cyrillic, arabian scripting etc

coth said,
it's not really handwriting recognition. it does not recognize scripts. it recognize strokes. therefore limited to latin only. no greek, cyrillic, arabian scripting etc

Um, Windows 7 has Greek, and Cyrillic handwriting recognition support.

It also does other complex handwriting like Japanese and Chinese.

Where did you get this at?

People who don't know how the tiles will work with mouse and keyboard should load up Zune and see how that works. It has a tile like interface and as you move across the screen it scrolls without having to click anything. From the last I heard, it sounds like Windows 8 will act alot like that.

TruckWEB said,
Is there handwriting recognition in iOS?

How could there be, there's not even a handwriting support…

TruckWEB said,
Is there handwriting recognition in iOS?

Nope, and OS X only has a very limited 'pixel recognition' based handwriting support.

(Youtube Vista/Windows 7 handwriting OS X) There are a ton of videos demonstrating how well doctor like handwriting is recognized in Windows, and OS X has problems with someone with perfect handwriting.

The handwriting recognition in win7 is amazing. I always preferred to write out everything in pen in OneNote and then convert the whole thing to text afterwards.

If win8 is even better this thing is going to be insane.

pack34 said,
The handwriting recognition in win7 is amazing. I always preferred to write out everything in pen in OneNote and then convert the whole thing to text afterwards.

If win8 is even better this thing is going to be insane.


My thoughts exactly. I have a terrible writing - if I write too fast, I have a hard time reading myself. But Win7's handwriting recognition makes very few mistakes. The only bad part is correcting individual letters - it seems their algorithm figures out the letters it doesn't know by looking at the whole word and what it might be. Correcting a single letter in a word doesn't do that.

pack34 said,
The handwriting recognition in win7 is amazing. I always preferred to write out everything in pen in OneNote and then convert the whole thing to text afterwards.

If win8 is even better this thing is going to be insane.


What tablet are you using? I'm currently looking for a slate as a digital notepad (OneNote) but there are not really that many options hardwarewise…

MFH said,

What tablet are you using? I'm currently looking for a slate as a digital notepad (OneNote) but there are not really that many options hardwarewise…

I'm using HP's convertible TabletPC the HP TM2T. The thing I love about OneNote is that it time stamps what you write when you're recording audio. So during lectures I record the audio and it highlights what I wrote during the audio playback. This works great when your professors use slides.

pack34 said,

I'm using HP's convertible TabletPC the HP TM2T. The thing I love about OneNote is that it time stamps what you write when you're recording audio. So during lectures I record the audio and it highlights what I wrote during the audio playback. This works great when your professors use slides.


Yeah OneNote is among the best programs ever made. Looking for a slate…

MFH said,

Yeah OneNote is among the best programs ever made. Looking for a slate…

For slates, you're probably best to wait. Although, the HP slate is supposed to have an awesome stylus and the Samsung Series slate is supposed to be good as well.

pack34 said,

For slates, you're probably best to wait. Although, the HP slate is supposed to have an awesome stylus and the Samsung Series slate is supposed to be good as well.


The Samsung seems to have really bad production issues. The HP Slate 2 seems rather good in terms of size - but it seems that the CPU is actually a downgrade compared to the Slate 500… The other nice slate I saw was the Dell Latitude ST, from pictures it looks great, might get a bit too big though…

Morden said,
what is a "FAKE" pen-based tablet?

"fake-pen" I'd assume is a reference to a stylus a "fake" pen-based tablet I suspect would be a vtech toy

SaltLife said,

"fake-pen" I'd assume is a reference to a stylus a "fake" pen-based tablet I suspect would be a vtech toy

so it's more like the "original" tablet concept, of course without the Apple-fanboy attitude

The more I see of Windows 8, the more worried I get. They really need to change a lot to make the UI exprience consistent. The screenshots from the latest builds are very ugly. The old desktop mixed with this new Metro UI is ridiculous. No one with a normal desktop will use 95% of the features in Windows 8, and no one with a tablet will be likely to use the desktop features. Just seperate them and give people a choice?

In the DVP there is a lot of stuff that makes it a very bad laptop/desktop experience. Many basic stuff requieres more clicks. A simple shutdown of the PC, a simple fastsearch/run commad etcetera.

This handwriting stuff makes everything more complicated. Why focus on this feature that no one will use? There is so mucht stuff to rethink or make better, just focus on that! Just be consistent and make a very intuitive OS instead of focussing on features that no one wants.

Dannydeman said,
<randum hate against metro>
Just wait to try it before blaming it? Also it's a beta, things can change if they are reported to MS and constructive.
I'm sure you'll love metro once you'll understand how live tile works and when the apps will be on the MS store.

Anthonyd said,
Just wait to try it before blaming it? Also it's a beta, things can change if they are reported to MS and constructive.
I'm sure you'll love metro once you'll understand how live tile works and when the apps will be on the MS store.

I actually like metro. I have a secondary monitor with a nice rainmeter Metro skin and Metrotwit. I just don't like to use it the way Microsoft is forcing it to desktop users, it's made for touch, not for a keyboard or mouse, no matter how hard they try. It will never be better.

I would love it on a tablet though.

Dannydeman said,

I actually like metro. I have a secondary monitor with a nice rainmeter Metro skin and Metrotwit. I just don't like to use it the way Microsoft is forcing it to desktop users, it's made for touch, not for a keyboard or mouse, no matter how hard they try. It will never be better.

I would love it on a tablet though.

It's not forced to desktop user. You can start directly on the desktop if you want to.

MFH said,

So wheres the start button?

In the corner where it used to be. It appears when you move your mouse to that corner, and with a single click (as before), it brings the start menu.

MFH said,

So wheres the start button?

its hidden... it appears when you move the cursor to where the orb should be
and anyway, it's a change... if someone afraid or hates change so much that cant even WAIT and try something out how it performs in actual IRL instead of bad-mouthing a product wich has never been used before then just stay on Win7/pre-Win7 or move to OSX or Linux

Anthonyd said,

In the corner where it used to be. It appears when you move your mouse to that corner, and with a single click (as before), it brings the start menu.

The Metroscreen as replacement for the startmenu, is not efficient for keyboard/mouse users. It's not logical to give a touchUI to non-touch users, Microsoft should know this. I love change, I like Metro very much, but why not make a Tablet edition and a desktop edition of the OS? It would be much better for the consumer.

If I still think it's frustrating to use in the beta, I don't believe it'll be much better in the RTM.

I think I will still use Windows 8 in the end though. It's much faster then 7, probably safer and much less power hungry. But I will disable the whole Metro experience, if possible.

Dannydeman said,
The Metroscreen as replacement for the startmenu, is not efficient for keyboard/mouse users. It's not logical to give a touchUI to non-touch users, Microsoft should know this. I love change, I like Metro very much, but why not make a Tablet edition and a desktop edition of the OS? It would be much better for the consumer.
Wrong wrong wrong! You obviously didn't try it!
If you are a real mouse&kb user, you can still start typing a program name and it will show up instantly.
Also, you can now group program pinned on the start menu. You can pin & sort manually the most used application to bring the applications you need in front where on the old start menu, it was sort alphabetically automatically (without being able to sort them as you wish).
The new start menu shows a lot more items than the older one (there is an option in the CP to set how many tile per page you want).
Live tile are awesome and very usefull.

And those are just few examples to prefer the new start menu other the old one...

Anthonyd said,
Wrong wrong wrong! You obviously didn't try it!
If you are a real mouse&kb user, you can still start typing a program name and it will show up instantly.

Is it still true that it just searches for programs? In Vista and 7 I'm always using search for settings and so on, not just for programs…

MFH said,

Is it still true that it just searches for programs? In Vista and 7 I'm always using search for settings and so on, not just for programs…

By default it searches from programm only (it's much faster). But you can use Windows+S & Windows + F to search for settings or files.

Anthonyd said,

By default it searches from programm only (it's much faster). But you can use Windows+S & Windows + F to search for settings or files.

Out of curiosity: does Win + F open an explorer like currently (Win 7) or switch to Metro? What does Win + S do, 'cause currently it's the snipping shortcut of OneNote…

Anthonyd said,
Wrong wrong wrong! You obviously didn't try it!
If you are a real mouse&kb user, you can still start typing a program name and it will show up instantly.
Also, you can now group program pinned on the start menu. You can pin & sort manually the most used application to bring the applications you need in front where on the old start menu, it was sort alphabetically automatically (without being able to sort them as you wish).
The new start menu shows a lot more items than the older one (there is an option in the CP to set how many tile per page you want).
Live tile are awesome and very usefull.

And those are just few examples to prefer the new start menu other the old one...

The problem with "just typing" is context. If I'm inside Word, how do I get to the start menu by just typing?

smoledman said,

The problem with "just typing" is context. If I'm inside Word, how do I get to the start menu by just typing?

The windows key?

MFH said,

Out of curiosity: does Win + F open an explorer like currently (Win 7) or switch to Metro? What does Win + S do, 'cause currently it's the snipping shortcut of OneNote…
Win+F opens metro search. You have to use F3 to bring "explorer like" search. (note that F3 works since ages).
About Win+S, I haven't tried it with one note, maybe i'm wrong and it's another key than "s" but it's something close to it

Anthonyd said,
Win+F opens metro search. You have to use F3 to bring "explorer like" search. (note that F3 works since ages).

True, but F3 only brings up the search if you already focus explorer… It's totally program dependend what happens on any of the F-keys…

Anthonyd said,
About Win+S, I haven't tried it with one note, maybe i'm wrong and it's another key than "s" but it's something close to it

Judging from my notes there are not that many combinations with the win-key left that aren't in use… Reusing any of those may break existing applications (e.g. OneNote if S or N are used…)

Dannydeman said,
They really need to change a lot to make the UI exprience consistent. The screenshots from the latest builds are very ugly. The old desktop mixed with this new Metro UI is ridiculous.
I'm confused ... the first screenshot is Win7, the second is Win8. Where's the mixing?

MFH said,

True, but F3 only brings up the search if you already focus explorer… It's totally program dependend what happens on any of the F-keys…


Judging from my notes there are not that many combinations with the win-key left that aren't in use… Reusing any of those may break existing applications (e.g. OneNote if S or N are used…)


I just checked, and it's Win + Q to search for settings.
Also, I don't see why you would like to use the "F3" search when you aren't using explorer.

Anthonyd said,

Also, I don't see why you would like to use the "F3" search when you aren't using explorer.

It's an extra click^^ But can be annoying - why would I first have to switch to explorer just to search for a setting - it's perfectly ok for file search…

Just look at the difference between 7 and 8, above. 8 looks tremendously great.

2012: Year of Microsoft, for sure!

Gotta mention the ipad/apple product in a completely unrelated article. We can't have an article where an apple product isn't mentioned.

sam232 said,
Gotta mention the ipad/apple product in a completely unrelated article. We can't have an article where an apple product isn't mentioned.

Considering that it's entirely relevant and contextual, I don't see what the issue is.

Owen W said,

Considering that it's entirely relevant and contextual, I don't see what the issue is.

If you done your research properly, those "fake" pen based tablets were never targeted directly at consumers. They were for business/enterprise use and again if you done your research properly, Windows XP Tablet edition came out YEARS before the ipad and therefore it cannot possibly be a competing product.

How about having a back bone and not editorializing your article/mentioning apple products in a unrelated article.

sam232 said,

If you done your research properly, those "fake" pen based tablets were never targeted directly at consumers. They were for business/enterprise use and again if you done your research properly, Windows XP Tablet edition came out YEARS before the ipad and therefore it cannot possibly be a competing product.

How about having a back bone and not editorializing your article/mentioning apple products in a unrelated article.

Just because a product was released later doesn't mean it can't be a competitor to the earlier released product. I am sure everyone would consider Pepsi a competitor to Coke or Acer computers competitors to Dell computers although they were both released later than the products they compete against...

Microsoft always focuses on Enterprise first as that is their true customer segment. Doesn't mean Apple hasn't slapped them around with iDevice competition via the consumer market. Windows Mobile is a classic example. They are now focused on the consumer world not the Enterprise via Windows Phone.

As Owen said, this was placed in the article properly.

Owen W said,
Considering that it's entirely relevant and contextual, I don't see what the issue is.

Me either.

I'm more objectionable to this 'fake pen' nonesense. It's called a stylus/digitizer, not 'fake pen', and offers much more in terms of usability than any of the capacitive fake pens that have come out for iOS.

Very excited. I have always used tablets for school and for taking notes in general. I hope they do a good job. Also wondering if they improved the equation recognition. As a math guy, I know it would be super cool to just write and have office get my handwriting as an equation and not jsut a picture of an equation.