Pen and Touch Input in Windows Vista

Windows Vista introduces touch input capability for Tablet PCs that support it, a new cursor scheme to use with the tablet pen, and other enhancements that are designed to make it easy to use the pen with Microsoft Windows and with applications that run on Windows.

If you're a veteran Tablet PC user, you can appreciate how these design changes improve your experience. If you haven't worked with the tablet pen much, spend some time experimenting. Put the mouse aside and use the pen to start applications, move files, select menu options, and make selections in dialog boxes. Be sure to work with applications that are pen-enabled, such as Windows Journal, in addition to applications that are not pen-enabled.

Users hold their Tablet PCs in different ways. These varying positions affect the steadiness of the pen. Experiment with holding the Tablet PC in different positions, such as on your lap, sitting flat on a table, or in your arms while you're standing. Try holding the pen in different positions as well.

Touch input

With touch input, users gain a flexible new input method on Tablet PCs. Users can immediately interact with their information and applications. Touch input is suitable for activities such as recording data, browsing and reading, playing games, listening to music, and watching movies.

There are several types of touch digitizers. Some respond to pressure, while others rely on skin contact.

With Windows Vista, the user can perform touch input-either directly, by tapping and dragging screen objects, or by using the touch pointer, a floating pointer that provides a more precise targeting point than the fingertip.

The following illustrations show the use of touch input on a mobile PC that has touch capability.




For information about supporting touch input in your application, see Designing for Touch Input.

Pen cursors

Windows Vista introduces a set of cursors to use with the tablet pen. A new cursor, which is distinct from that used with the mouse, appears when the pen hovers over the screen. Cursor animations give visual feedback when the user taps, double-taps, or uses press and hold to right-click.

The following illustration shows the visual feedback for the different pen events.




Common controls

The common controls in Windows Vista have undergone usability review for use with pen and touch input. Most common controls can be used without adjustment in your application, though some controls, such as the spin box and the tree control, require more precise targeting with a tablet pen. For these, consider alternatives, such as a slider control connected to a numeric field, or a list box.

In most common controls, the sizing of component elements (such as a check box) is determined by system metrics, the overall size of the control, and, in some cases, the font size of text components. Common controls adjust their sizing to meet accessibility settings, user preferences, and dots per inch (dpi) settings.

Be sure to test all your form layouts with pen input and, as appropriate, touch input. Test on both 96-dpi and 120-dpi displays. See Pixel Density and Usability.

Multiple selection

On a Tablet PC, Windows Vista displays check boxes next to items so that users can easily perform multiple selections with the tablet pen.

The following illustration shows the new check boxes in Windows Vista that enable users to select multiple selections by using a tablet pen.


check boxes appear next to items in Windows Explor

check boxes appear next to items in Windows Explor


Handedness settings for menus

Where possible, menus now appear next to, rather than under, the probable location of the user's hand. Users specify whether they are left-handed or right-handed by changing the handedness setting.

The following illustrations show how context menus appear on the right or the left, depending on a user's handedness setting.






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Build date: 2/8/2011