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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Tablet PC

Increased Portability

Unlocking More Potential With Vista

Tablet owners likely have already gotten used to a little-known version of XP known as Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Even though there is, as of yet, no such official distinction for Vista, the premier versions of the operating system offer new, enhanced tablet-exclusive features that make PC controls even more dynamic. This shows that Microsoft is still quite committed to tablet owners.

Vista unlocks a slate of cool, new features for Tablet PCs that often get overlooked by the more mainstream reviews of the new operating system. There is one major setback, though, and it’s that the low-end versions of Vista carry virtually no tablet-specific features. The enhancements I make reference to are based on my experience with Vista Ultimate.

Vista Ultimate’s Pen and Input Devices control panel has a handful of more options than it does in XP. One of the most notable is the addition of "pen flicks", which allow you to add customizable options or macros when you slide the stylus across the screen rapidly in a specific direction.

Vista Ultimate pen flicks control panel

Up to eight different flicks can be programmed. Some of the pre-set options include "copy", "select all", "page down", and "save". In other words, they’re mainly for easier execution of programs like those in the Office suite. However, you can program each flick to trigger any button, or a Shift+/Control+ two-button macro. For example, I have the upward pen flick set to "print screen" so I can more easily grab a shot of my computer screen.

Additionally, there’s an always-on (though you can turn it off) "input panel" that masks itself in the corner of the screen. If you hover over that, it will bring up a Tablet PC handwriting panel, should you want to insert something as a handwritten entry. It’s just a little bit easier to access than the XP button on the bottom task bar, which I always hated for eating up too much of my taskbar space.

This small corner icon is always available, ready to expand into a virtual piece of paper for handwritten text entry.

Additionally, since Vista is all about visual upgrades, there are some sort-of-neat new visualizations that show up when you tap or double tap something, or hold down the stylus to select an item.