While Windows has had native Ink capabilities since 2003, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will ratchet these capabilities up to 11 with the introduction of Windows Ink. Here’s what’s happening.
Previous to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Ink was available to the operating system and of course to any apps as well. Some apps, like Microsoft Office, were adapted over time to offer minimal additional Ink capabilities, while others, simply let you use your finger like a big mouse pointer.
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The problem with Ink, to date, is two-fold. First, it’s never clear which apps work seamlessly with pens. And second, there’s no “Start” for Ink. If you do have a pen, it’s not obviously what you should do first.
Windows Ink solves both of these problems. It provides an Ink “Start” experience right in the pen: When you press the top button on your pen, the new Windows Ink experience appears as a pane on the right side of the screen. And that Windows Ink experience provides a list of Ink-savvy apps and tools so you can find what you need immediately.
The goal here, Microsoft says, is to make using a digital pen and PC screen as seamless as using a real pen with paper. That promise will require testing, so we’ll see how that goes. But in the meantime, we can at least rundown what else is changing.
In addition to that new Windows Ink Experience, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will add Ink-improved versions of Maps, Microsoft Edge, and Sticky Notes apps, plus a new Whiteboard app. Microsoft Office will also be updated to support Windows Ink (though I’m not currently clear if this means Office 2016, the Office mobile apps, or both).
And Microsoft is partnering with Wacom to bring the power of Windows Ink to more uses. This firm will create “Windows Ink capable solutions” that will “provide customers with the best end-2-end Windows Ink experiences,” Microsoft says. A Windows Ink-compatible Wacom pen will be available at retailers like Best Buy this holiday season.
As with other Windows 10 Anniversary Update features, you can expect Windows Ink to appear first in a coming Windows Insider build. (As soon as next week.)