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New Surface Pen overhauls and expands inking for Office 365

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro might be as unfixed as it was unbroken in its previous incarnations, but there are quite a few exciting changes coming with it. Updates to inking in Office 365 go hand in hand with a brand-new and far more sensitive Surface Pen, and the Microsoft Whiteboard app should now be more collaborative than ever.

Along with the option for a fanless design, one of the features highlighted in our look at the new Surface Pro was its upgraded Surface Pen. With more than 4,000 pressure points for added sensitivity, the new pen can take advantage of a variety of new functions when inking Office documents. Tilt functions and low-latency support are now available in all Office 365 applications.

Tilt and low-latency support with Surface Pen in Office apps

This means that you can adjust the thickness and texture of your ink depending on the angle of the pen. With almost no latency, drawing more complex shapes and an improved fluidity to the experience should be possible for all users.

Other new features include additional ink effects and textures, letting you draw more complicated images in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Although not as fully featured as bespoke artistic applications, it should be possible to create some quite pretty images by hand even within those typically more office-orientated apps.

Some of those features are available already, though they are limited to Fast Ring Windows Insiders. Microsoft claims that the new ink effects will become more widely available for Office 365 users in June.

Once they do arrive, you’ll be able to take them across various apps as you go, with a personalized “pencil case,” of artistic tools. Microsoft’s update will see the apps offer a gallery between apps that showcases your favorite pens, pencils, and highlighters, giving you quick and easy access no matter which app you’re using.

But Microsoft doesn’t want you to keep your Surface Pen skills to yourself. In an update for the Whiteboard app for Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced collaborative inking so that friends and colleagues can annotate together with all of their favorite digital pens and pencils.

Although the app isn’t a widespread one at the moment, Microsoft is looking to change that in the future and that includes bringing it to the new Surface Pro. Office 365 subscribers will have exclusive abilities within the app, though all users will have access to additional new features like geometry recognition, table conversion, and automatic table shading.

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Jon Martindale
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