The pen is mightier than the mouse

Pen-based computing is now a reality as Microsoft and a broad range of computer, software and chip companies announced the availability of Tablet PCs

. They will combine the full power of the Windows XP Professional Tablet PC Edition operating system with the ability to use a digital pen in addition to a keyboard or mouse. Paul Burgum, Microsoft's industry manager – manufacturing & engineering, says: "The Tablet PC will unfetter people from the limitations that laptops and fixed PCs place on their movements and convenience. It will enable users to do their jobs faster and more directly, whether they are on the shop floor, top floor or outside in the field or on the move. "At last the ability to easily capture the 'cigarette packet' drawing within meetings is now a reality, making it easier to share ideas. Product managers will be able to take original ideas, develop them during the meeting and send these to colleagues electronically for review, making comments and corrections directly onto the drawing using Digital Ink and eventually turning them into useable drawings. "Ruggedised versions will be available soon that can be used in harsher manufacturing environments. Production managers can make notes and sketches that map the manufacturing flow while supervisors will get instant access to on-line manuals and product drawings while moving around the production line. In the research and development (R&D) area, managers will find the Tablet PC technology invaluable for mapping processes and following procedural controls, plus recording any notable events and outcomes." MF