As a diehard and inveterate Android user, it pains me to admit this, but my recent experience with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and a dip back into Windows 8, reminded me just how good the onscreen handwriting implementation of the basic Windows OS is. This has been baked in to Windows 8 from the beginning, and was implemented in the tablet versions of Windows well before Microsoft, Apple or the rest of the world started to take tablets seriously. I was using a Fujitsu tablet with an active digitizer back in the mid-2000s, in Hong Kong, and the handwriting recognition technology was already good back then. It’s only got better in the interim.
The Microsoft onscreen tablet keyboard is resizeable. It can be anchored to the bottom of the screen or dragged around as a floating pane. Its handwriting panel is one touch away, and smooth and elegant when you do open it. Google has just introduced its own Google Handwriting Input keyboard app – ten years after Microsoft had a pretty mature version of the same input method running.
Windows 8 has hardly been the world’s best-loved OS, but Windows 10 seems on track to address many of its worst deficiencies. It also is designed to slot into thin tablets and other small form factor devices, while offering a full OS experience. For those who need that kind of functionality, it’s going to be harder and harder to justify the compromises in a mobile OS if the full Monty can fit into the same size platform.
And as to devices that can match the size and specs of generic Android tablets, Chris Meadows reported a great experience even with the $79 HP Stream 7. At those price levels, I’m seriously tempted.