PLEASE READ: The Windows and Wacom Tablet Nightmare is Over
[UPDATE ON 2012–08–18] This article describes Windows 8 Release Preview to see the latest information regarding Windows 8 RTM and Wacom go here: http://viziblr.com/news/2012/8/18/windows-8-rtm-and-wacom-tablets-better-but-flawed.html
I described the issues I found with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview back in March 2012: First Look: Windows 8 and Wacom Tablets. It got worse. But those were early days, with the release of the Windows 8 Release Preview recently, it's time to see how things have evolved. And critically, for those of you who are tempter to switch over to the Windows 8 Release Preview as your primary OS, you'll want to know what the experience will be like.
A BRIEF HISTORY AND SUMMARY
Everything perfect back in the XP days. Vista introduced some unwanted default behaviors that you could easily disable in the control Panel. Windows 7 forced kept the unwanted behaviors but forced consumers to modify their registry to get thinks working again. Especially if you were using Windows 7 Home Premium you had a tough time. But at least some help was available to restore sanity.
Summary: Windows 8 Release Preview shows some improvements but remember those registry key changes that fixed the problems – They don't work anymore. If using your Wacom tablet is very critical to you, skip the Release Preview.
GOOD NEWS: THE CURSOR WHEN USING THE STYLUS
When using the stylus, Consumer Preview cursor showed a tiny dot instead of an arrow. See the image below.
It's back to an arrow in the Windows 8 Release Preview
POTENTIALLY GOOD NEWS: TABLET PC INPUT PANEL
Windows Vista and Windows 7 would respond to the presense of the Wacom tablet with the Tablet Input Panel.
And then we had to go disable it.
The situation is better in Windows 8 Release Preview. The tablet does not appear by default. This could be a bug, but I hope it remains unfixed.
POTENTIALLY GOOD NEWS: FLICKS
In Windows 7 we would see the Flicks icon in the notification area and the Flicks would be enabled by default. We had to disable both the icon and the flicks behavior in the control Panel.
In Windows 8, the flicks icon lo longer appears in the notification area.
Curiously, the Control Panel indicates that flick recognition is enabled, however it doesn't actually recognize any flicks. I don't know if this behavior is deliberate or accidental in the Windows 8 Release Preview. To be safe, I disabled the flicks.
VERY BAD: PRESS-AND-HOLD
Remember that press-and-hold ring that would appear in Windows 7.
You can try to disable it in the Control Panel all you'd like, it is always enabled. This seems like a straightforward bug, which I would expect will be fixed before Windows 8 releases.
VERY BAD: DYNAMIC FEEDBACK FOR THE PEN
Ah the hated ripples… they are back and also they cannot be disabled – even if you set the registry correctly to disable them.
Again this seems like a basic bug that will be fixed.
VERY BAD: BASIC INTERACTION WITH UI COMPONENTS
There seem to be some occasional odd issues when using doing things like selecting items in comboboxes and trying to resize columns in gridviews. Sometimes clicks and drags simple “disappear”. I often have to use the mouse or the keyboard to complete the action.
This is the third issue that will be very frustrating because it affects consumers' use of “normal” non-creative apps.
I don't doubt the problems will be addressed which should put us back to slightly better position than we had in Windows 7. Of course if they could re-enable the “disable dynamic feedback” option that we last saw in Vista, that would be even better.