Windows Ink is about transforming the way we think about computers, from a tool that is great at getting things done, to one that harnesses your personality and your emotions into the things you create. It’s about bringing back the human aspects that a mouse and keyboard (and even touch) cannot express fully, it’s about making personal computers more personal, and an extension of yourself, not just a tool. We want you to feel empowered to create from the moment you pick up the pen, and have the confidence that Windows understands you, knows what you want to do – by understanding your handwriting, your words and your expression. This is the journey we’re on.

With the Creators Update, Windows Ink is now better than ever! When used with the Surface Dial, it allows you to discover new ways to work and interact with Windows. With Windows Ink, we continue to make it possible for you to do more than with pen and paper. Applications like Photos and Maps have added incredible inking functionality in the last year, and continue to evolve and expand. With Paint 3D in the Creators Update, Windows Ink can now create 3D objects! As we evolve what Ink means to users, we’re also introducing new Smart Ink capabilities to Windows Ink. These capabilities allows developers to understand the ink that is being laid down by the user, using AI to help create, connect and complete user actions on ink. We’ve also improved and added features to the building blocks for Windows Ink, introducing new stencils and adding tilt support to create a richer drawing experience.

Devices that support the Pen on Windows have also doubled in the last year, and is on track to double again in the next year! We’re seeing high demand not just for devices, but also for applications that support ink. To make it easier to find compatible pens, Wacom has partnered with us to develop the Bamboo Ink Pen. This pen will be in market in summer and supports almost all Windows PCs that are pen-capable. It features the Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP), which is based on Surface Pen technology. In addition, we are also excited that the Surface Dial is now available in more countries, like Australia, Canada and New Zealand, giving more people an opportunity to try this incredible new input device. In addition, new hardware from our OEM partners, like the Dell Canvas 27, are shipping soon and takes advantage of the same RadialController APIs that are used for the dial. As a developer building for the Surface Dial today, it means that you are ready for all the new hardware that our OEM partners will bring to the ecosystem.

The progress we’ve made with Windows Ink would not have been possible without the feedback and passion you developers bring to us. With over a thousand inking applications in the store and growing everyday, with well over half of the top 10 paid store apps being ink apps, there is incredible enthusiasm and interest in this space. This is an incredible opportunity that you have embraced with us, and it inspires us to do more in each Windows release.

What’s new with Windows Ink platform?

Ink is the ultimate way humans can express themselves, it opens up new opportunities for application developers to differentiate, and helps make their applications stand out. From the latest fads like adult coloring books to simple games like tic-tac-toe, to applications that help you organize your life, there is just so much opportunity to build the next big thing in the inking space. We also know that people who use Windows Ink are more satisfied with their experience, what they look for, and buy more inking applications. From the platform perspective, we have 2 ways that we help developers:

  • Make it as easy and quick for a developer to add inking into their application by providing controls that can be dropped in quickly into any application and get Windows Ink support.
  • Provide the most flexible platform building blocks for developers to innovate upon. This gives you the flexibility to choose where to start developing for Windows Ink.

Introducing Smart Ink

Let’s start with a new building block that developers have access to in the Creators Update. Introducing Ink Analysis, this is the first of our family of Smart Ink capabilities that we are bringing to the platform. Smart Ink brings AI technology to not just understand what you write, but also helps connect the dots to what you may want to do. With Ink Analysis, it starts simple, with recognizing shapes and making that square you drew more perfect, but it can also do much more, like understanding you wrote words in squares and making it into an org chart using understanding about your organization. Our goal is to understand user intent and empower developers to turn it into rich digital constructs, as well as to leverage understanding from all parts of the system. Ink Analysis allows any developer to understand the ink they capture, whether it is handwriting, shapes, phone numbers, stock symbols, lists, document structure and more. This is the same technology we debuted in Sticky Notes in the Window 10 Anniversary Update, and now it’s available for you to use! We can’t wait to see what you can do with this technology.

Here is an example of how to use Ink Analysis to recognize shapes. For this snippet, we’ll use DirectInk to handle rendering the ink strokes. Start by initializing an InkAnalyzer and connecting it with InkPresenter:

Read more: See What's New with Windows Ink in the Creators Update - Building Apps for Windows