You can now use Windows 10 without a keyboard

I am an artist and a software developer for a Windows 10 art tool called Tablet Pro. I’ve noticed that there is a change in Windows 10 Creators Update that almost no one knows about. And its huge. 

If you’ve been using Windows 10 without a keyboard for a while you will know that the experience could use some improvements. For many of us, the touchscreen experience is not developed enough to meet our needs, which means we only use the tablets at desks with portable mice, a keyboard and of course the pen.

The new Windows Ink Workspace includes an on-screen ruler

The new Windows Ink Workspace includes an on-screen ruler

Unfortunately this also means that, when these tools aren’t available, many of us skip working on the machine entirely until we get to a suitable working environment. Work gets pushed back, dragging into time meant for our families and friends or beer pong.

Thankfully Microsoft has recognised this problem and has done a fantastic job of improving the new version of Windows for deskless creatives. 

New additions

So what did Microsoft add to the Creators Edition for the digital artist?

  1. Surface dial
  2. Windows ink (ruler and protractor)
  3. OST (on-screen trackpad)
  4. Improved palm rejection

While each of these has received a decent amount of attention, I believe the biggest addition has been talked about the least. As an artist and a software developer it has blown the doors wide open for me. So what is this mysterious fifth feature?

5. Simultaneous Pen and Touch

Yes, it is as sexy as the sensuous and sultry name implies. You can touch things at the same time as you can uh… pen them. OK, so it isn’t sexy at all. Which I believe is partly why it hasn’t been discussed. It’s hard to package the idea in such a way that people can easily see its value. However, the implications for artists and creatives is massive.

The Surface Dial give you easy access to shortcuts, controls, drawing tools, and more

The Surface Dial give you easy access to shortcuts, controls, drawing tools, and more

Pen and touch

Imagine a software update that turned every single Windows 10 tablet into a Wacom Cintiq. Does the Creators Update do that? No, but it gets pretty darn close. You won’t all of a sudden have a tilt function on your Surface Pro 4 pen. But you will have the ability to add customisable buttons on the side of the display that allow for rapid tool changes, just like a Wacom Cintiq. 

The reason I’m so thrilled is that developers can now create touch interfaces for their software that use pen and touch independently and simultaneously (Sketchable already does this).

For Tablet Pro users, that means better and more consistent simultaneous pen and touch natively. It’s faster, and it’s more reliable. We have made a number of under-the-hood adjustments ourselves, and can currently replicate about 99 per cent of keyboard functionality in Photoshop and about 85 per cent in Zbrush, with most other programs solidly between those two.

If you want to give a quick test of the new Creators Update’s simultaneous pen and touch feature, you can download Tablet Pro and try for free.

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