I wanted to blog about this before going on holiday and now that I'm back in the swing of things (and collected a few more posts from other people that relate to the subject) it's definitely time to get it down.
Iggy Kin (http://www.iggysoft.com/2005/07/computing-with-pen-is-unnatural.html
) blogged that the Tablet PC is not as successful as people imagined because "Computing with a pen is unnatural". So, why is this?
With Windows XP tablet PC Edition you are effectively looking at the standard Windows UI with bits tacked on to give you an "ink experience". Let's face it, no matter how much you love Tablets you can't get away from that simple fact. This is why you have applications such as Orange Guava and TEO to provide things which should really be there in the first place.
Even things like logging on to Windows need to be more intuitive, cue the Tablet PC Edition of FrontMotion Logon as blogged about by Craig Pringle (http://www.pringle.net.nz/blog/PermaLink,guid,92b8bf74-84d7-473f-8c44-59a586114657.aspx
Windows Vista is to include a swathe of new features and Tablet specific functionality including improved handwriting recognition - the improvements for things like I, l & 1 and o, O & 0 are very noticeable in Beta 1 - but it is not really the handwriting side of things that makes computing with the pen "unnatural".
I have read various posts from people saying that they have handed a tablet to "Joe User" and they have instantly known what to do but I would suggest that is purely because they are using the pen as a straight replacement for the mouse rather than "thinking in ink".
The real issue is making the whole UI suitable for a pen from start to finish: logging in, navigating files & folders, running and (more importantly) USING applications.
It is interesting to note that WSS v3 is to include OOB just about all of those features the SharePoint community has requested or built solutions to, perhaps this needs to happen with Windows and other applications. Things like Loren's Ink gestures add-in for Word (see here http://journals.tuxreports.com/lch/archives/002924.html
) will help but this is the kind of thing that MS needs to be building in from the word go! Only then will end user realise the true benefits that a Tablet can offer.