Microsoft is Enabling New Surface Pen Scenarios in Office 365

Posted on May 23, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, Office, Office 365 with 8 Comments

Microsoft is Enabling New Surface Pen Scenarios in Office 365

As part of a broader Surface Pro (2017) announcement today, Microsoft also revealed that it is enabling new inking experiences in Office 365, including a new app called Whiteboard.

“To further unlock people’s productivity, we are making the creative power of the new Surface Pen available in the world’s most powerful productivity suite: Microsoft Office,” Microsoft announced today. “New inking features in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint [will] roam with you as a personalized setting across Office apps and devices [and] additional inking experiences will continue to roll out in the future, including the new Microsoft Whiteboard app.”

Most of these new experiences will roll out in June as part of Microsoft’s monthly Office 365 update schedule. The new Whiteboard app, however, won’t arrive until later in 2017.

Here’s what’s coming.

Ink gallery. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2016 are all getting a customizable gallery of your favorite pens, pencils and highlighters in the Draw tab. You can choose which tools appear there, and your customized settings will sync across devices.

Support for the new Surface Pen. These same Office 2016 applications will support the enhanced functionality in the new Surface Pen, including its support for tilt and shading, and its 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Microsoft Whiteboard app. Coming later in 2017, this new Office 365 app works much like the Whiteboard app in Surface Hub, providing users with two-way inking, intelligent ink conversion (shapes with accurate measurements and so on), real-time collaboration with remote users, and more. This app is currently in a private preview with education customers, Microsoft told me.

Naturally, this work builds on the many inking capabilities that are already available across Office 365, and Microsoft promises more in the future too.


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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft is Enabling New Surface Pen Scenarios in Office 365”

  1. siko

    Nice to know!

  2. Bats

    Steve Jobs, said it best (and I paraphrase) "The best pen, is the person's finger."

    I don't see much use for a "pen" when it comes to computing. I get why artists need it. However, for the rest of the world it's not necessary.

    Technology should evolve that encourages finger use. Take for example Panera Bread. You can place and pay for your order on a small computer in the restaurant and sign for it using your finger.

    Microsoft should be forward thinking about this and develop improved finger inking.

    • geschinger

      In reply to Bats:

      Definitely a lot more use cases than artists. I find the pen useful for note taking where concepts aren't straight text. Equations are but one example. Having do that with one's finger would be an abysmal experience.

    • rameshthanikodi

      In reply to Bats:

      if i'm not mistaken, all of the windows inking stuff works just fine with a finger. As for "improved finger inking", that would be pen inking :)

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Bats: When you go to a meeting, do you bring pencil/pen and paper, or are you one of those who brings a laptop, hides behind it and clacks on the keyboard throughout the meeting? I find my Surface, pen and OneNote ideal for used to result in detached notes on paper scattered all over, or took me time to transcribe them to something digital.

    • Cosmocronos

      In reply to Bats: I have used Tablet PCs since 2002, when they were launched, and the main reason I switched to the new format was the ability to handwriting.

    • Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

      In reply to Bats:

      Quote: "Steve Jobs, said it best (and I paraphrase) "The best pen, is the person's finger." I don't see much use for a "pen" when it comes to computing"

      Though I have admiration for Steve Jobs, I wholly disagree on the point of the finger being the best pen, for the simple reason, one can write faster, more legibly, more precisely, and with a smaller font size with a pen than one's finger.

  3. bsd107

    When you say "Office 365", does this include Office 365 Home (which I have subscribed to)?