Promising Upgrade for Tablets

Handwriting recognition happens on the fly in the Text Input Panel (top and left). You can click on incorrect words to change them (right).
Handwriting recognition happens on the fly in the Text Input Panel (top and left). You can click on incorrect words to change them (right).
Ever since Windows XP Tablet PC Edition debuted in November 2002, Microsoft has insisted that handwriting recognition is not the centerpiece of the operating system's pen-based features. But tweaks to improve the handwriting recognition are the most visible changes in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 (code-named Lonestar)--the first major revision of the operating system. Overall, it seems to be a good revision, especially as a free upgrade for current Tablet PC owners.

We tested a Lonestar beta running on a Toshiba Portege M200 Tablet PC and found the Text Input Panel's improvements notable. For example, in some applications the TIP will pop up near the place where you want to enter text, instead of being docked permanently at the bottom of the screen as in the original operating system. It also permits on-the-fly corrections, which makes converting handwriting to text less frustrating than in the original OS.

The new OS will incorporate Windows XP Service Pack 2--Microsoft's major security upgrade (see "Windows XP's Big Security Fix," March 2004)--and will be released simultaneously with SP2, which is slated to appear this summer.

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