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Lenovo's WRITEit handwriting tool for Windows is kind of amazing

Lenovo has a lot they are announcing this year at CES, but one of them is a bit of a secret. Tentatively called WRITEit (or WriteAnywhere, they have not decided), the software is in its alpha stages though they may have it for release before summer.

WRITEit is what Microsoft should have built into the OS as it lets people use a stylus anywhere there is a text box in Windows.

Now, technically, you can do this today but what happens is Microsoft's handwriting recognition box pops up, taking up half of your display. You then use the stylus to write what you want, Microsoft converts and inserts it into the text box.

With WRITEit, Lenovo has taken that gangly box out of the equation. Instead, you just write in cursive or print into the text box and the conversion happens in situ. This ability means you can use a stylus everywhere in the OS, regardless of the program. Web browsers? Check. Search boxes? Check. Email fields? Done.

WRITEit by Lenovo

Honestly, this feels like something Microsoft should have figured out years ago, or at least for the Surface Pro 3. Right now, I barely use the Surface's pen, but if it could do what Lenovo is figuring out, I'd likely change my habits.

Who knows, maybe Microsoft is working on this for Windows 10, but if not, Lenovo looks to have your back.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

59 Comments
  • Had to look up what in situ means lol
  • :D
  • I didn't
  • What does it mean?
  • Binged -> it means "on site"
  • its an adverb, it means something is doing something in its original place without moving. in this case it means writing in the original text location of the text box so writing, "in situ" (the original place, without "doing" in this case writing somewhere else)
  • He used to be a doctor, remember?
  • He was never a doctor. Take a look at his LinkedIn.
  • Pretty cool, but why write in text boxes when you can type? Keyboards were invented for a reason. It's not like you're note taking
  • Tablets or laptops that can fold 360 degrees
  • There are many times when I'm using my Surface Pro 3 in tablet mode, with the stylus, to take notes. It's a pain in the butt to open a browser and touch-type or write-translate using the Windows SIP today. Likewise, I don't want to have to keep flipping between tablet and laptop mode just to type a quick search and return to my notetaking. This is a fantastic solution for that.
  • yea...thats why we live in a world where phones exist without keyboards...
  • Yup, ditto Mr. Rubino
  • Pretty cool. It may be handy for tablets.
  • How do we get this on other devices now... Hope it isn't locked to Lenovo, but it probably will
  • If it's software based. It will only be a matter of time before someone reverse engineers it to work on other devices.
  • Holy. Freaking. Crap! That's fantastic! And yes, Microsoft should be implementing this directly in Windows.
  • "This feels like something Microsoft should have figured out years ago..." I've found myself saying something similar on many occasions. Its fascinating, in an odd way, to see how many times Daniel's statement can be applied over the years.
  • Agree 100%.  The windows handwriting recognition is AMAZING.  Really unbelievable how well it can recognize my chicken scratch handwriting.  It just gets better and better as you train it and use it more.  But man, the input interface is absoultely horiffic.  If Lenovo's write anywhere solution taps into the Windows handwriting recognition engine, this would be heaven.  But if it doesn't, then it will likely just be another half baked solution. So I'm hoping Windows 10 will have this dynamic kind of handwriting input built-in to go along with it's unbelievable recognition engine.
  • I can do that on my hp stream 7.
  • This is something I wouldn't be surprised is coming with Windows 10 especially seeing as almost all MS' OEMs are including styluses in their products
  • Cool. Another thing for Linux to such onto.
  • If it doesn't come in Win10 and is locked to Lenovo devices, gonna be a bit disappointed. Need more usage for Surface Pen...
  • If it wasn't coming in Win10, it (hopefully) is now that this is public. Wonder if Lenovo has it locked in with a patent.
  • Even though I have the option to insert handwriting with my hp stream 7 , handwriting is only good for signing a application other than that not many uses for handwriting on a computer or tablet.
  • I'm the exact opposite, I write a ton of equations and derivations, draw figures, annotate journals etc. I only really use OneNote on my tablet with stylus nothing else, I probably have gigabytes of handwritten notes in the cloud! Nothing beats writing integrals or derivatives with fractions and powers with a pen and then using arrows to clarify explanations, forget the keyboard punishment!
  • OneNote is transformed with pen input, but I've never really found myself wanting to use the pen instead of the keyboard in other parts of the o/s.
  • If the pen was actually useable in other parts of the OS or applications you would probably find ways to use it. Navigating with the pen on the desktop is not very responsive and many applications don't support it. Would be great to be able to just drop any signature in Adobe Acrobat but that isn't possible.
  • I'm amazed that handwriting and voice recognition weren't implemented OS-wide for text input already.
  • Same here. When I'm in an environment where I need to be quiet, like a Doctor's office, Library, classroom, etc., I would much prefer a stylus in most situations. If I'm at home, I prefer voice recognition.  For example, right now, for posting here or in the forums, I'd rather that with Voice Recognition and not have to type it. For long posts, Voice Recognition is bests. For light browsing with short text searches or short posts, I'd rather use a stylus. Depends on what I'm doing.  Much of the time, my Laptop is flipped into Tablet mode and the Keyboard isn't exactly accessible. I hate using the on-screen keyboard, and would rather have the stylus or speech recognition options. I've got a Lenovo laptop, so perhaps the pen handwriting recognition is something I'll be able to get at least.
  • I am interested.
  • This was a feature of the very first release of the tablet PC from MS, so they likely have a patent. I've forgotten why they removed it, but it was around for about a year.
  • Yes, Microsoft had this in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and they called it "Write Anywhere." It is so frustrating how Microsoft has all these good ideas and products and they suddenly drop them. Then someone else comes along and 'invents' it. I loved write anywhere.
  • And then after that, it was a third-party program called "RitePen".
  • Thanks for filling in the details (: I remember trying it and finding it a little fiddly, so I used the TIP mostly. I do remember the tablet team was somewhat hamstrung by the fact that they didn't have the access they needed to fully integrate with Windows.
  • I can't write worth a darn, I can type much faster than write. I think most folks are that way now. I do believe the tech is amazing, I still think I'd just type.
  • Off topic : VLC got updated to VLC beta and it sucks even more!
  • Microsoft has never provided full solutions for computing, this is largely Apples realm. Microsoft has allowed its various OEMs and other developers to augment and update the OS to fit specific needs. This is a good thing and encourages innovation and competition. Had Microsoft created this noone else would be researching this except for other OS's. That's not good, you want your developers to stay with the OS, not move to others.
  • Yeah i agree. Credits to Apple on their ecosystem. And The Windows oems. Hm my nl920 is lagging a bit...
  • Except Windows has had handwriting recognition for 13+ years now
  • @Ticomfreak:
    Tl;dr?!
    Of course you can use handwriting recognition in Windows for a quite a while.
    But it invokes a separate window for you to write in, while Lenovo's tech lets you write directly in the textbar or -field.
    This is far more convenient.
  • Wow!!! Would love that on my SP3
  • Super cool
  • Freaking awesome... Microsoft must have this feature integrated in Windows 10
  • nice, the pen is one of the reason why i like my surface pro.
  • Have to agree that Microsoft should have thought of this. Hopefully this is something that's in Windows 10, it really feels like a no-brainer and would make using a stylus more enjoyable. Stylus users need that as well as being able to scroll using the stylus.
  • I always have my stylus Because its one of those two in one pen/stylus with a replaceable tip
  • Is there palm-block?
  • The problem is the textboxes being too small to write in.
  • You could do this with an Apple Newton. The Newton went one better. You tapped to place the cursor where you wanted to insert your text, and then you could write anywhere. Worked really well and I miss it. I agree, writing in an input box can be restrictive because it can be quite small. See myapplenewton.blogspot.com and search for the entry on the Notes app.
  • This would be outstanding addition to Windows 10, suggesting it right NOW in the tech preview.
  • Will this work on non Lenovo tablets like dell venue 11 pro? Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Bravo Daniel, bravo, that you discovered this!!! I agree with your sentiment exactly. This is what should have been part of the surface pro line up all along. It's good to see that Lenovo picked this up. This is one of the stylus improvements I've been waiting for quite a long while now. This feature will be a game changer for note taking tablets and devices. Now it only needs this function across all apps, even mail and calendar, with textfield for writing in pen and even inline ink-to-text recognition in all apps. It will be great. Microsoft already has a great ink-to-text recognition library and can learn your handwriting. It's built into the OS and even for EVERY LANGUAGE! Now the big question: how to get Lenovo and microsoft to colaborate to make a great stylus experience for both Lenovo and surface pro (notetaking) devices for 2015? Windows Central and their loyal reader petition and feedback. I would say: definitely YES!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ro8RLACs7M&list=UU1XKbytqHObDBndR48cyLhQ
  • This kind-of reminds me of the transcriber program in Windows Mobile.
  • In contrast, I use the SP3 pen as often as not.  So much so, in fact, that I bought a spare when I couldn't locate my original pen.  I find it very convenient for taking notes and some artistic stuff.  I just wish the pen had more user-definable features.  I'd like to be able to press one of the buttons regardless of the program I'm using and be able to highlight text.  The handwriting box hasn't really bothered me since it scales nicely when I'm using more than one pane (I HATE how Windows 10 completely destroys this feature...DEATH TO WINDOWS 10!!!!!).
  • Ah, but can you use this tool to write on the track pad? I'd love to be able to enter text by clicking on a text field and then scribbling on the track pad. I don't like writing on a vertical surface. #lefty
  • I'm the only one who think "right handed" on the left and "left handed" on the right is somewhat wrong?
  • PenOffice from PhatWare does the same, but unfortunately only on Windows 7 tablets: http://www.phatware.com/index.php?q=page/penoffice/windows# They've announced support of Window 8.1 but never delivered: "This version has compatibility issues with Windows 8. We are working on an updated version for Windows 8.1" Stupid PhatWare management!
  • Please up vote this here at windows feature suggestions   https://windows.uservoice.com/forums/265757-windows-feature-suggestions/...