I've had several emails asking about Tablet PC and Vista Beta 1. Will beta 1 install on a tablet? What's in, what's out, what's new????

To the first question - yes Beta 1 works on a Tablet! I have beta 1 installed on my HP TC1100 right now. There are some caveats, but it is definitely worth doing. You'll need a keyboard and mouse to get it set-up and you'll probably have to install some drivers before the pen and buttons will work. This beta doesn't have most of the tablet bits,  but we have created a separate install that give you the Tablet Input Panel, or TIP as we call it. The TIP download is linked to the Beta 1 site and will soon be linked to the MSDN beta 1 download site.

What's in: Since Vista Beta 1 was intended for developers and IT folks we focused on getting the platform APIs into the OS. The latest version of Avalon, or I should now say the Windows Presentation Framework is has lots of tablet goodies for tablet developers. Check out the Tablet Avalon team site. With XAML and our new InkCanvas you can have your first pen enabled app up and running in seconds.

What's out: Most of the Tablet bits you'd expect aren't in this beta, like Windows Journal, the control panel etc. These will all be back in the next beta.

What's new: There are several new features that are designed specially for or only for the Tablet PC:

  • Check Boxes on Hover. One problem users have had when using a pen is selecting multiple files. Beta 1 introduces a new feature that displays checkboxes when you hover over file icons. In the beta this is off by default but you can turn it on in the Folder Options control panel. Go the the View tab and enable "use check boxes to select" (or something like that). While you are in the Folder Options dialog you should try out "Single click to open an item" on the General tab - this is the same as XP but is definitely the way to go on a tablet.
  • Panning Tool. The mouse wheel was one of the best inventions ever (after the Tablet of course). It allows you to scan up and down web pages with ease. But with the tablet you don't have a "pen wheel" so you have to carefully target the scroll bar to scoll. And if you are left handed you hand obscures the @^&* page you're trying to scroll!! ...drum roll... enter the Panning Tool in IE, this awesome invention is similar to panning tools in image editing apps, you just grab the page and move it up and down. No more looking away from what you are reading, tapping on the scroll bar... trying to find your place again. This is just a taste of a really really cool feature you'll see in beta 2. Enough talking about it, panning is only on tablets - a hand icon appears on the IE toolbar, click it to enter panning mode.
  • TIP Features. The extra download TIP is far from the final one we plan to ship but it does have several new features. Let's start with the edge target - that's the little tab on the side of the screen that you use to invoke it. Until now, the TIP was either docked at the top or bottom of your screen or floating when you brought it up "in-place". Unfortunately when it was floating it kept going away. Now if you bring it out from the edge target you can put it wherever you want and it will stay ("Stay TIP, good boy"). Getting rid of ink has also been improved, you can either us the eraser on your pen or do pretty much whatever wacky scratch-out you can think of.

What's in beta 2: ... you'll have to wait!

Ian LeGrow - Tablet PC Team