“This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells,
And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells.”
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton
[UPDATE on 2013/01/24] Added link to petition and Microsoft communities site
[UPDATE on 2012/12/20] Added a note about the use of older drivers.
[UPDATE on 2012/12/27] Added link to a video that shows how affects the “click-drag” operation when using a pen.
[UPDATE on 2012/12/20] There may be way to at least disable dynamic feedback. Consult this post: http://viziblr.com/news/2012/12/21/a-possible-workaround-for-pen-dynamic-feedback-effects-and-w.html
[UPDATE on 2012/12/16] Added section on those with Touch displays.
[UPDATE on 2012/10/27] Added a correction based on reader comments.
[UPDATE on 2012/08/24] I have updated this post a bit – my initial take was too forgiving.
Some minor things got better. Some major things are worse. The things that we fundamentally hated have now become impossible to fix.
A Quick Summary
- Windows XP: things worked great
- Windows Vista: The default behavior was undesirable but could be corrected by an average user.
- Windows 7: The default continues to be undesirable, and correcting part of the behavior *Dynamic Feedback” was difficult.
- Windows 8 (RTM): The default state is reasonable. If you enjoyed the original XP behavior you will be OK with the default behavior in Windows 8 – with the exception of some odd bugs.
GOOD NEWS: The TABLET PC INPUT PANEL no longer appears by default
Windows Vista and Windows 7 would respond to the presence of the Wacom tablet with the Tablet Input Panel.
In Windows 8 RTM, this no longer appears by default.
GOOD NEWS: Flicks no longer interferes
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 RTM , the flicks icon lo longer appears in the notification area.
Note that the Control Panel indicates that flick recognition is enabled, however it doesn't actually recognize any flicks. To be safe, I recommend you disable the flicks via Control Panel > Pen and Touch > Flicks. Uncheck Use flicks to perform common actions quickly and easily.
BAD NEWS: PRESS-AND-HOLD STILL OCCURS AND CANNOT BE DISABLEDRemember that press-and-hold ring that would appear in Vista and Windows 7?
In Windows 7, Press-and-hold is enabled by default but could be disabled completely for all applications
In Windows 8, Press-and-hold is enabled by default and CANNOT BE DISABLED.
Now, you can try to disable it of course: Go to Control Panel > Pen and Touch > Pen Options > Press and Hold. Click Settings. then uncheck Enable press and hold for right-clicking.
However un-checking the value seems to have no effect at all or at least an inconsistent effect. I want to be clear that I regard this as an incorrect, and illogical behavior and thus a clear bug in Windows 8 RTM.
To be fair, some pen-based apps (ArtRage for example) are able to disable the feature inside themselves.
BAD NEWS: Dynamic Feedback Cannot Be Disabled
The Dynamic Pen Feedback in Windows 8 RTM behaves somewhat similarly to Press-and-Hold
Previously in Windows 7 we could correct this using some special registry keys and disable it entirely for all applications. Again, the fact that it can't be disabled completely is something I regard as a bug in Windows 8.
And again some pen-based apps do manage to disable it internally.
BAD NEWS: UI Components Sometimes Fail to Work with the Pen completely
There seem to be some occasional odd issues when using doing things like selecting items in comboboxes or dropdown-lists. Sometimes clicks and drags simply “disappear”. I often have to use the mouse or the keyboard to complete the action. Again, this is a very basic bug that I hope gets addressed soon.
Here's a video that demonstrates the problems with dragging objects.
BAD NEWS: The On-Screen Keyboard appears randomly
There is some strange combination of Windows 8, Wacom, and certain applications (Chrome seems be the one I see this in a lot), where suddenly the Windows 8 on-screen keyboard appears for no apparent reason. I have no idea what is causing this or why Chrome seems prone to it.
NOTICE: The “Tablet PC Input Service” has been renamed to "Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service"
Back in Windows Vista and Windows 7, some people would disable the “Tablet PC Input Service” to restore santity to their use of their tablet. I never recommended this procedure, but some people found it effective.
Disabling this service in Windows Vista and Windows 7 was done by starting “services.msc” (The Services admin tool) and then finding “Tablet PC Input Service” and then setting its Startup Type to disabled.
In Windows 8, the service has been renamed. Thus “Tablet PC Input Service” is not longer listed in the Services admin tool. See the screenshot below:
(NOTE: TabletServiceWacom is a different service and needs to be enabled to use your pen)
Fortunately it is there, but renamed to Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service.
In my experience, disabling this service on Windows 8 does not affect the dynamic feedback ripples or the press-and-hold behavior.
BAD NEWS: Tablet PC Components can not be uninstalled
Another technique people used to solve their problems was to uninstall the “Tablet PC Components” feature. In Windows 7 they would go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows features on or off and then uncheck the item called Tablet PC Input Components.
In Windows 8, this is no longer possible because there is no item called Tablet PC Input Components listed there. See the screenshot below.
MY DECISION: I am still moving to Windows 8
I am switching to Windows 8 despite some of the issues I have described. The default behaviors seem OK for my uses of pen-based apps. The remaining bugs and strange behaviors I hope will be addressed with a future update.
HAVE A TOUCH DISPLAY: There may be hope
Here's an interesting comparison. Below are screenshots of the Pen and Touch control panel. Both are from Windows 8 RTM. On the left is my desktop on the right is my Acer Aspire S7: a laptop with a built in touch-sensitive display.
Pen and Touch Control panel on Windows 8 with non-touch-sensitive display
Notice that at the bottom there is a group of options called Pen Buttons.
Pen and Touch Control panel on Windows 8 with touch-sensitive display (Acer Aspire S7)
Look at this: Pen Buttons no longer appears. Instead we see Touch Feedback.
The good news is that Windows will now correctly disable Press-and-hold and the option called Show visual feedback when touching the screen will disable the dynamic feedback ripple effect.
Checking the Show visual feedback when touching the screen may have some negative consequences when you are actually using touch the screen instead of using your pen – I didn't use it long enough to see anything though.
Now that we know that Windows can somehow completely disable the hated pen effects, I believe this gives us a reason to believe a solution when using a tablet without a touch-sensitive display is technically possible.
NOTE: See the vertical space between Touch Feedback and Show visual feedback when touching the screen? This hints at the existence of another setting that might exist but is not being shown for some reason.
Should You Use Older Drivers?
If you read through the many comments to this blog post, you may notice that some people have reported success in disabling these effects with older Wacom drivers. (You can find the specific version numbers in the comments).
Simple question: Do I recommend the use of older drivers to avoid this problem.
As a software engineer, there are two things I have to balance: helping people, and making the right engineering decision.
From a pragmatic perspective, if an older driver works for you – in the sense that it solves your problems and has negative impacts – then that is a reasonable option. And I think it's fine for you to do so.
From an engineering perspective my feeling is that using older drivers is a temporary measure. The real solution is going to take more collaboration with Wacom and Microsoft.
Q & A
You say you took these screenshots with Windows 8. Why are the corners of the windows rounded?
This is a consequence of my screenshot tool: HyperSnap. It tries to accurately capture the rounded corners of Windows 7, not realizing that it should not continue trimming the corners in Windows 8.
How can encourage Wacom and Microsoft to fix this problem.
- Sign this petition
- Share your experiences at the Microsoft Communities site, as you can see this is a common topic.