drawing

One of the best things about the Surface Pro 3 is its pen. It’s changed the way I take notes, brainstorm and review PDFs. As useful as the pen is, however, I can’t help but think its implementation in Windows is a half-measure.

Currently, the pen’s behavior is different depending on where you use it. In the operating system parts of Windows and in programs like Word, the pen is a mouse replacement. Then in certain apps like OneNote, it acts like a pen that you can draw with. You can mark up PDF files, but not JPG or DOC files.

This specificity is fine for knowledgeable users, but for casual users it’s confusing to remember what the pen can be used for where. If there’s no clear sense how a tool will be used, chances are it won’t be.

For the pen to ever have mainstream adoption, it should be used consistently no matter where you are, like the mouse or keyboard. Ideally, you should be able to write, draw and mark-up with the pen everywhere. The pen doesn’t ever need to be a mouse replacement.

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I had written a few days ago about how Microsoft took customer feedback too much to heart with the Xbox One, which resulted in an E3 showing that was too focused and none too exciting.  It’s only fair that I now point to where Microsoft has used customer feedback in exactly the right away.

Gabe is a comic book artist at Penny Arcade.  He went on Microsoft’s radar after he wrote a glowing review of the first Surface Pro; possibly the most positively influential of all the coverage given to Microsoft’s first gen device.  As a comic book artist, the Surface Pro’s thin-and-light tablet form factor and pen were transformative.  Not surprisingly, he liked the second version even more.

So the Surface team was likely looking forward to getting his reaction to the Surface Pro 3, which is a giant leap better than its predecessors.  Except, Gabe had a few major problems with it and posted a less-than-glowing review.

So Microsoft did the right thing and tried to learn what went wrong.  Check out Gabe’s remarkable update here.  Read it and mosey back.

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