let pen usage toggle between inking and pointer
The January 2016 Office update defaults the Surface Pen to an inking tool. Most Excel users prefer to use the pen as a pointer. Please give us a toggle in the ribbon to switch between inking and pointing.
(2016-03-15 – Completed) (Edit: Added link to Office Insider signup)
I wanted to let everyone know that in the update to Office that started rolling out to Insiders today, you will find a new preference in the Options dialog to allow you to make the pen select instead of ink by default. Enabling this preference will make the pen function exactly like it did before, plus you can use the options on the Draw tab if you do decide you want to ink. If you are an Office Insider (which anyone can join – https://products.office.com/en-us/office-insider), you should get this update within the next day or so. If you are not an Office Insider, it may take another week or two to reach you.
This is a per-app preference, so you can enable selection by default in Excel for instance while leaving ink as the default in Word and PowerPoint, or you can switch all three. To access this preference select File > Options, and then in the Options dialog select Advanced and check ‘Use pen to select and interact with content by default’ in the new Pen section.
We’ll be releasing the second piece, which is the ability to toggle on pen selection via the Draw tab for those that only want to use the pen to select occasionally, with the next monthly update.
Thanks again to all of you for your feedback, and we hope this change addresses your concerns.
(2016-02-29 – Started)
I wanted to first thank all of you for your feedback. We’ve heard you loud and clear, and as a result we are actively working on two changes:
1 – For people that want to use the pen as a precise pointer temporarily, we will introduce the ability to do that via a button on the Draw tab. This will keep the new default of having the pen ink on the document canvas, but give the ability to use the pen to do selection when needed.
2 – For people that want or need to use the pen like a mouse by default, we will also add a new preference to the Options dialog that will allow you to restore the previous behavior. If you want to ink, that will be easier than before because you’ll be able to just tap a pen on the Draw tab and start inking, but you will be able to set your default behavior to be that the pen selects, just like it was before the update.
We are actively working on making these changes so that we can get them out to you as soon as possible. Note that you may see #2 (the preference in the Options dialog) appear first, because we are prioritizing getting that change to you based on your feedback.
(2016-02-25 – Under Review)
Thanks all for the feedback, we’re looking at this area now.
You’re correct that this is a change with the latest update to Office 2016, if you have an O365 subscription. Throughout Office (and across platforms – Windows, iOS, Android, etc.), we are moving towards having the pen do what it does on paper: draw ink. Using this you can annotate your documents, convert ink into shapes and flowcharts, and more.
You should still be able to use your finger to select, resize, change text color, etc. however. This change should only affect your use of the pen.
Now all that said, we’re always open to your feedback on any change we make, so we are now looking into providing a way to allow you to go back to the legacy behavior.
Gordon Wassermann commented
Thank you very much for responding so quickly to correct this problem (of course it would have been more insightful not to have created the problem in the first place, but I am still very impressed that Microsoft really is listening to its users!)
To RON GREEN. You are my hero ! I turned off that windows ink and my wacom works in Excel, etc. I have yet to find the update MS is talking about in options even though my MS was reinstalled last night thru the magic of MS. But now I don't care since my pen works.
Julian Stanelle commented
Thank you very much for the update. Possible bug report: although prior functionality has been restored, all pen options in the ribbon (with the exception of "select objects") are now grayed out (surface pro 4). Also, what is the path to the setting in the options dialogue?
Ron Green commented
I have found a fix that seems to work for me for my Wacom Tablet. In the Tablet Properties I went to Tool-->Grip Pen-->Mapping and unchecked "Use Windows Ink". This is working for me in Excel and Word 2016, as well as correct a problem I was having with pen behavior in Photoshop. There are a few other very select things that it also impacted for using the pen to right-click but not that I cannot live with considering the other problem with it always inking everything. I hope this is of help to some!
Thank you for the update, I am sure I'm not the only one looking forward to the next update.
Do you know when the pen functioning as a pointer will return to excel? I see you mentioned it was being worked on but when will the update be released?
Charles Meyrick commented
Dear Dan [MS],
Thank you for listening to your customers. I look forward to the fix. louly wish Y didn't have to wait for it. I can understand the benefits of batching updates. However, this issue with the inking has caused a serious disruption to the productivity of your users. Is there so me way that this fix can be made available "on demand", so that those of us who need it can get it sooner?
Thank goodness this is getting addressed. Is there any way to "track" this issue so I can get some sort of notification when it is released...rather than just trying it every time I open Excel.
lucky cole commented
This is absurd that Microsoft has not immediately come out with a fix or remove the ink until it works in mouse mode as well. We actually use word and excel to do real work.
Manju Gupta commented
Reason pen is there for me is to use as a mouse where my fingers don't work due to thickness.
When I want to use it as a pen I can always go to Draw just like anything else. I personally believe it is an unnecessary burden on users.
Secondly, as you suggest in this letter that it should have choice to default under option how the user would like to use rather than making it permanent.
I contacted the poor tech at answer desk via chat hoping she could help me elevate the issue until someone gave us an ETA -- and maybe an explanation/apology but that's secondary. She offered to remote my computer and I said don't bother it's not my computer -- believe it or not someone thought this was a good idea and changed the software. She said she was aware of the issue and said she had a workaround so I agreed to give it a shot. Didn't work so I had her install Office 2013 which does work. i also got a free month of subscription (I know big deal). I urge all who have the time to flood answer techs (respectfully - it's not their fault) with requests to go back to 13 and answers on fix ETA.
Dan: I don't think you realize what a big screw up (respectfully) this was and how urgently those who are losing productivity need their pen back. Waiting to do a release so as not inconvenience us with updates just stokes the fire. If the fix is done release it yesterday.
How come Office has had a minor update since this issue was first created and my system has had an update as well...but still this issue has not been corrected. At the very least you should provide a roll-back to the previous version since this new version renders the program (mostly excel for me personally) useless when I am anywhere other than at my desk and have my Surface docked. The irony is that I've been a Mac person for years and finally have begun migrating to PC and WHAM, Mac "forceful" thinking follows me!!
Julian Stanelle commented
Thanks for the release update, but waiting until the end of the month for the update schedule isn't exactly optimal for those of us who really need a fix as soon as possible.
If it's tested and ready, is there any way for those of us who really need it to access it sooner? Will Office Insider users be able to expect it within the next ~10 days?
Please don't ask us to "be respectful," when you're leaving us all out in the cold with no confirmation of a simple update. Taking away functionality is beyond stupid. Why would you demand we use the tools the way you want us to instead of letting users decide what works best for them? This is the sort of stupid attitude that drove me away from Apple, and now I see Microsoft is no better, and possibly worse. We need answers, this is slowing me down and forcing me to use my older hardware. Why did I buy a Surface if I have to use my four year old Asus to get work done on time? Pathetic, Microsoft.
Lucy Jones commented
I share the sentiments of others who have posted on this topic. Having lost the use of my pen as a mouse has set me back hugely, eating away at my time and productivity. Please can you tell us when EXACTLY (not "sort of") the fix will come through. I don't have the luxury of telling my clients "sort of" when I will finish my projects. Why would Microsoft think it is acceptable to their customers?
David Greer commented
I echo many of the comments here... this change points to a complete disconnect on Microsoft's part to how business users are using the SurfacePro, very disappointing. Please make good on the promise to have it fixed soon. Thank you.
SP4 User commented
I have to say that I'm impressed to see that MS has been monitoring this thread and is working on the fixes that we all desire. While it was frustrating to begin with, I'm very pleasantly surprised and grateful. Thanks Dan for the updates! I'm sticking with Office 2013 until the "patch" is released, so I'll keep an eye on this thread to see when it's ready so I can get back on Office 2016.
Ryan White commented
Why don't you guys check with your customers before changing things like this? Put it back please!
Once again - thanks for your comments. I want to (sort of) address the timeline for the fix here and at the same time ask that posts on UserVoice remain respectful as opposed to derogatory.
The way we release updates for Office 365 is via a monthly release. This is similar to "patch Tuesday" that we have Microsoft-wide for updates to Windows, etc. and allows us to batch up fixes so that we're not releasing something every day, causing you to have to download changes all the time, etc.
While this does mean that you don't get fixes immediately, it is much better than we've had in the past (where releases of Office were 1-3 years apart, depending on whether you include service packs or just major releases). And, it's a balance we're trying to strike between users who want frequent updates and those who want slower updates (many business need to validate solutions, etc. each time an update is released).
So, rest assured that this is coming and will be released as soon as we can - the fix has been made and checked in, and now simply needs to make it through the release pipeline.