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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Windows 7 Handwriting Recognition

November 20th, 2009 (10:09 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

...seems to be usable! I had previously tried the Windows XP version and decided that it wasn't worth the effort, but having recently upgraded my tablet to Windows 7 I thought I'd give it another go.

Yesterday I took my machine in to work and along to a technical presentation, and tried taking notes with it "live".

It's not as quick as "real" handwriting, because it doesn't get everything right and you do have to go back and make corrections, but there are few enough that it's not too painful.

And in a sense it is real handwriting, because unlike Graffiti on the Palm, you don't have to modifying letter forms for the machine. You just write in joined-up writing and the software will try to figure it out.

Mostly it does a pretty good job even straight out of the box, thanks to a lot of handwriting data collected and analyzed from previous versions of Windows. You can also train it though, to do a better job of recognising your own personal hand.

So, I think that handwriting is now a credible alternative for interacting with a machine that supports it. However, I'm not sure how likely it is to get much use. First of all, you do need specialised hardware, although you no longer need a special version of the operating system. More importantly though, the type of people who are likely to want a tablet are also  likely to have got used to typing, and are likely to be faster doing so.

I like writing on my geriatric Palm, because it feels more natural than typing, to write on a little "notepad". It also feels more creative. I'm not so sure that this is true of a tablet. Because a tablet is really a specialised laptop, it's bigger, heavier and more unwieldy, and you have to lie it flat to write on it; or lean it against a table-edge, which is what I did yesterday. Your hand rests on the screen as if it were a piece of paper, but of course it doesn't feel like one as the tip of the stylus slides over it. Not having done much manual writing for years, l also find that my hand gets a bit tired writing anything as long as this.

Yes, this post is handwritten in my own handwriting, with the tablet balanced on my left leg as l sit on the sofa half-watching a DVD. It works, but it's tiring; so TTFN folks. :-)