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First Look at Tablet PC 2005 Alpha
By Chris De Herrera
12/21/03. Revised 1/12/04

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At Comdex, Microsoft provided selected members of the press an alpha copy of the Tablet PC 2005 (code named Lonestar) upgrade, formerly name Tablet PC 2004).  Here’s an overview of the features of Tablet PC 2005 Alpha:

As with any alpha release, the features and capabilities are not complete so the final features will change based on their ability to add features.

1. Better Handwriting recognition – Yes it does work better with my chicken scratch! Further I’ve noticed that there are lags with slower machines in the alpha release. I hope Microsoft is able to smooth out the performance so people can multitask applications and get acceptable performance in handwriting recognition

2. Ability to write a character at a time – This function helps people with poor letter recognition. It allows them to rewrite a character in the middle of a word to edit it. The downside is that there is no backspace or delete strokes or buttons supported.  - At CES, Microsoft demonstrated a more up to date TIP which included the navigation/edit functions built into the character at a time recognizer.

There is no additional functionality for Ink based applications.

Also, the following items have been removed from the TIP

1. Write Anywhere – The Transcriber function that was originally available in TIP no longer exists. The use of the pop-up TIP may appear easy however it requires additional press to write each time.

2. Block Recognizer – This functionality no longer exists

3. Pocket PC Recognizer – this function no longer exists

4. Strokes – You can no longer use the back stroke to delete a character, etc.

Summary

Overall Tablet PC 2005 brings slate and convertible users who focus on handwriting some needed improvements in the recognition. However the compromise on removing Write Anywhere and the lack of editing buttons will cause some additional grief for users that want a seamless Tablet PC experience. Further if you plan on using your Tablet PC for ink alone, there are no improvements in Tablet PC 2005.

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