As a Tablet PC user I’m relying on stylus input and handwriting recognition a lot. So let’s start with the good news: Microsoft did a hell of a job with Windows Vistas handwriting input panel. Recognition accuracy is really astonishing and though some third-party product like Firefox leave room for improvement talking about the input panel’s integration, it works well and fast in most other situations.
Now the bad news. I can’t get that freakin’ thing to learn my name. I must admit there’s no way my parents could have known that I’d be using handwriting recognition on a computer one day when they named me over 20 years ago. So I can’t blame them for deciding on Jürgen.
As long as I’m using German as the selected input language on the input panel, I’m fine. But since I’m dealing with English most of the time and since I’m also talking to some Spanish guys every now and then, most of the time my input panel isn’t set to German. Unfortunately Microsoft didn’t consider that case as relevant and there’s no way of teaching Vista my name with the input language set to English, not even using the handwriting personalization tool as it won’t allow me to enter any characters that aren’t part of the selected language’s keyboard layout. Automatic learning and correction tools aren’t an option either since whatever I write on the input panel gets changed into the closest fit of a standard character. As soon as the correction tool is running out of close matches to "ü" it just comes up with not-so-close matches. This turn’s out to become an extremely funny game that in no way I can win.
Finally as a another little side note on handwriting recognition in Windows Vista let me mention that I started training the system (in English) using the handwriting personalization tool to improve accuracy even more. This again works great just that I can’t run this tool for any language other than English. Especially not for German, Spanish or French input. It took me a while to find that information on the web but turns out that this is in fact true. Handwriting personalization is only available for English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
To be precise, automatic learning of handwriting style and targeting specific recognition errors is available for these languages and only these. Automatic learning of vocabulary and teaching the system your handwriting style by feeding the system with handwriting examples is even supported for English exclusively. Check for yourself here.
Microsoft could really care a bit more about DETAILS!!!