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Microsoft and Wacom enter a deal to create 'dual protocol pens' for Windows 10 PCs

Earlier today during the Microsoft Build Keynote one announcement was accidently missed by Bryan Roper due to time constraints. Microsoft and Wacom have entered a licensing deal in which Wacom will make so-called 'dual protocol pens'. That wording translates to one thing: digital pens that will work across digitizing technology from Microsoft and Wacom.

The long term goal is that users can buy a range of pens for computers at various price points, but yet do not have to concern themselves with the technology behind it.

No timeline was announced, but soon you will be able to have a pen for your Surface tablet that also works on any Wacom device and vice versa.

Microsoft is serious about inking in Windows 10 with a variety of announcements this morning for developers to let them add inking capabilities into their apps. Moreover, Sticky Notes and Sketch Pad apps are also coming along with some deeper inking integration into the OS.

We're standing by for the Wacom official press announcement and will share that when it goes live.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

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.

26 Comments
  • Hmm surface phone??
  • I was thinking about that! This should be something that is being laid as a foundation for the Surface Phone.
  • I agree. Mobile needs a major changeup of input, like MS did for tablet/ 2-in-1's with Surface. I happen to think that typing on touchscreens (even shape writing) is the worst of all worlds.
  • The inking demos were awesome.
  • I cannot find the Sketch Pad app in the Windows Store :( Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • This is great! You can use both pens on your devices that support pen touch.
  • Hmmm, so a Microsoft-designed phone with inking support coming with Redstone 2? Hmm... No wonder there will be no new phones this year from Microsoft then (which is partially what Terry Myerson's statement meant - but obviously the Verge had to capitalize the "p" in "phone", so that it could be interpreted as W10M by trolls and uninformed people).
  • Where did you read about a Microsoft-designed phone with inking support that is coming with Redstone 2?
  • I never claimed to have read that, hence the question mark. I deduced.
  • I hope this encompasses wacom EMR like the technology the Galaxy Note phones use. My dream of having the stylus inside a silo on a surface tablet will probably never haplen, but I'd be extremely happy just to be able to use my Note pen with a surface tablet. Sadly I think it will only be compatible with AES
  • That is beyond awesome. Hope it comes to fruition.
  • Maybe I missed something. What about the N-Trig pen they microsoft bought?
  • Yes, for the N-Trig "digitizer" in the current Surfaces. Don't be confused, the technology isn't just in the pen.
  • You are missing something. The article mentions they want to combine technologies so when you buy a wacom or surface pen you can use it on wacom devices or Microsoft devices without worrying about compatibility. Basically options is what they are trying to give the consumer.
  • Re: deloa84,
    Who ya speaking to?
    Yes, the N-Trig digitizer and pen technology is different than the Wacom digitizer and pen technology. The article essentially says that the new pens will include and work with both technologies. If you purchase one of these new combined technology pens, it will work on the new Surfaces ( with N-Trig digitizers) and Wacom digitizer devices.
  • Microsoft has N-Trigg. So why go with Wacom?
  • So customers can buy the pen that suits them best. Limits comparability issues and pushes the use of the pen, thus driving more people to Windows 2 in 1 devices over stand alone tablets, limiting the need for a tablet(ios/android) and pc.
  • that would be nice, since I can use just one pen for both my surface pro1 and pro 3 and my Asus VivoTab Note 8, and maybe the future phone too.
  • Wacom is for commercial use only. Their pen is first created for table not tablet which I use to design art with. Now it's tablet or table and at least 15". If continue to the future Apple or Android might bring Wacom closedown... It's a good idea Microsoft join power with Wacom.
  • Awesome!
  • i hope this means that i can finally install a driver that lets me have pressure sensitivity with both my cintiq and my surface pro without having to reinstall drivers every time. N-trig is dumb just for making this a pain in the butt.
  • Cool. Maybe Microsoft can help Wacom improve their shi++y 1/8" thick glass Cintiq screens. I deal with Wacoms every day, from pre-Intuos 1 serial models many years ago, to the latest Intuos 5 and newer tablets and their flagship Cintiq displays. The displays are so expensive, yet a cheap iPad from several years ago has a better tactile experience than their most expensive model today. It's like placing a thick sheet of glass over your paper and trying to draw on it, and has been that way for over a decade. I am glad someone else is in the game, and hopefully through competition or collaboration, the "drawing on the screen experience" won't be so artificial. I have yet to try N-Trig tech with Photoshop, but I hope the experience is better there.
  • This is so cool! I'm using wacom drawing tablet and it would be cool to only buy one pen to use with drawing table and with touchscreen! maybe surface phone? :P
  • Nice! More pens to choose from for N-Trig devices like the Surface Pro 3 and later. Already have more than enough choices with Wacom in my Surface Pro 2, but I still prefer to stick with the original Surface Pro Pen...
  • I watched the keynote last night and was really impressed with the new additions to Ink, especially the quick access to Notes and such.  I'm one of those people that head for pen and paper simply because it's quicker and easier.  The new Ink will probably change this.  I'm looking forward to getting into a Surface...soon ;) I take it that pen technology will eventually make it to phones too (I see Surface phone comments here already)?
  • Fingers crossed that Microsoft-owned Wunderlist adds inking support. I'm desperate for a to-do app that I can just scribble directly into. OneNote is too cumbersome, and I suspect a "sticky note" app would be too disorganized and lack to-do/deadline functionality.