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.