If you’re like me, the first time you picked up a Tablet PC you began writing in your favorite block print handwriting style.  Perhaps like me, you were disappointed with the results.  Personally, I found myself adjusting my handwriting to fit the computer.  Three years after the Tablet PC launch (and a couple more playing with the developing technology), I’ve been broken of my block print.  I still use print in note-taking, but I’ve even adopted lower-case letters (which tend to yield better recognition results).

Clearly, this is not the way to bring “natural computing” to every user.  That is why I am happy to tell you about just one of several improvements on the way for Windows Vista.  Some of these improvements are available in an early (and by no means final) stage in the Beta 1 TIP Download.

The single-character recognizer has been completely revamped.  Internally, we call this the “Basic Print Recognizer”.  It not only helps recognize printed words (written in the lined mode of the TIP, for example); but it also helps when correcting (in the TIP “correction comb”), inputting special characters, and trying to recognize words that are not in the dictionary.  It also makes it much easier to enter URLs and Web addresses.

You may have been especially frustrated with “confusable” characters such as “0” and “O”, “I” and “l”, and “Z” and “2”.  Another aggravation is lower-case versus upper-case.  Because the neural networks behind BPR have been re-trained with specific data to better disambiguate these confusable characters, we have significantly improved the experience.

Perhaps it’s been too long for me to revive my block print habit, but I for one have noticed a difference.  Around the office here, several people have remarked on how much easier it was for them to recognize print or quickly correct free-form recognition errors.  With any luck, you’ll finally be able to input your business acronyms or use your characteristic abbreviations in instant messages!

Kurt Geisel - Director of Development - Tablet PC