Surface 3: It's all about the Pen

Microsoft is wants the Surface Pen to be a critical function of tablet computing, despite it being a $49.99 add-on.

Rod Trent

April 7, 2015

2 Min Read
Surface 3: It's all about the Pen

Microsoft believes the ability to write is important for us humans. That's why its Surface tablets have always included the option. But, this isn't Microsoft's first foray into digital penmanship. When the company rolled out its original Tablet PC specs in 2001, a pen was required. And, while it's just an option today, and touchscreen UIs have been much improved, Microsoft still believes that writing is an innate function, necessary for human communication.

A digital pen is one of the primary differentiators between Microsoft's tablets and Apple's, and it's surprising that the iPad maker hasn't gotten on the bandwagon yet. You can use a stylus with the iPad, but it's not a full-featured technology, just able to mimic your fingertips. Included with the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft's digital pen is just an add-on now for the new Surface 3 at $49.99, but the company is clearly still intent to show that it's a necessary accessory.

A couple recent commercials highlight this. One commercial is dedicated to the Surface Pen, and the other is a romp through daily life with the Surface 3, but the pen still gets significant airplay.

See the Microsoft Surface Pen in action

See the new Microsoft Surface 3 in action

Truth told, I rarely use the pen that came with my Surface Pro 3. I've just never been able to find a way to incorporate it into my computing routine. The only time I use an actual pen is to sign checks before they are deposited in my bank. And, even then it's an effort. I don't disagree that writing is an essential and a required skill, I'd just rather use a keyboard and push out 90 words a minute instead of 15-20.

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