Microsoft: Missing Wacom drivers coming to Surface Pro 'soon'

Microsoft: Missing Wacom drivers coming to Surface Pro 'soon'

Summary: Current and potential Microsoft Surface Pro users who've been pining for lacking Wacom driver support for pressure-sensitive applications like Photoshop: Your wait may soon be over.


Pen-toting Microsoft Surface Pro users are going to get the missing Wacom driver support "soon" that will allow  Adobe's Photohop and other creative applications work properly.


Since Microsoft launched the Surface Pro in early February 2013, a number of users have been unpleasantly surprised to find pressure sensitivity for supported Wacom digitizing pens to be lacking.

Finger-pointing ensued. Some said Microsoft's decision to use its own digitizer driver based on its InkAPI as the default was problematic. Some claimed Adobe -- which was backing the alternative WinTab API -- was going to have to modify its applications for pressure sensitivity to work correctly on the Surface Pro. Others noted that Wacom's own drivers provided necessary WinTab support, but these drivers wouldn't install on the Pro.

I asked Microsoft officials a couple of times over the past few months for an update on the required drivers and was told the company had no comment. But in mid-February, one of the key contributors to Microsoft's Surface work tweeted that Microsoft was actively working with Wacom and the situation should be resolved "soon."

A May 9 tweet by Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Surface, indicated that the updated Wacom drivers for Surface Pro were in beta and would be released soon.


I asked Microsoft again today what "soon" meant and was told there was no further information as to when the needed drivers would be out.

Update: Wacom has what appears to be a new Windows 8 Wacom driver -- which may or may not be the one Panay referenced -- posted for download on its site. (Thanks for the link @dan_tower.) Just choose "Windows 8" as the operating system in the drop down and you'll see "TABLET PC – Enhanced Tablet Driver 7.1.1-12," dated May 9. I've asked Microsoft officials if this is the Wacom driver for Surface Pro. No word back so far.

Microsoft officials said last month that Microsoft would begin expanding international distribution of its Surface Pro tablet/PC hybrid starting this month. The Intel-based Surface Pro will launch before the end of May in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It will launch in Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand before the end of June, according to an April 23 post on the Surface Blog.

This week, during an appearance at the Wired Business Conference, Windows Engineering chief Julie Larson-Green hinted that Microsoft may be ready to talk further about new members of its Surface hardware family within the next few weeks.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Surface 2.0

    The next wait is for Surface 2.0 with new Intel processors and double battery life.
    • I doubt double....

      But with leaks about two new laptops hybrids utilizing haswell definitely makes 10+ hours seem well within reach.
      • 10 is double.

        Last time I checked.
    • Actually Surface Pro 1.0 itself rocks

      I have a Surface Pro with 128GB and 64GB MicroSDXC. I use it moderate to heavy on any given day with a lot of presentations, visios, spreadsheets and on the fly POC code building. The battery lasts for 5 hours given any day. I also have Surface RT, which complements this for surfing and doing online research. Of course I could do these with a Windows 8 laptop, and I use those (lenovo and HP) when I am doing heads down coding. :)
      Ram U
      • You have both a Surface Pro AND a Surface RT?

        Interesting. Some forum participants in here have been criticising people for having/using both a laptop device AND a tablet...
        • yes, I have both

          I use Surface RT is my mobile entertainment device and use it for light computing. Surface Pro, I use it as a powerhouse.
          Ram U
        • You have to ...

          The battery life requires you to have two Surface devices at hand :)
      • Have you tried out the Avatron Air Display Win 8 Pro drivers yet?

        I volunteered to beta test their Windows 8 drivers with my Surface Pro and my iPad retina tablet and it's sort of meet to have the a mobile dual display setup.

        Unfortunately, WinRT drivers must be hard to code for because Avatron has not released any info on Surface RT Air Display support.
        • I haven't tried. But definitely will give it a shot.

          Thanks for the tip. :)
          Ram U
    • Surface Pro 2

      Not 'till after Christmas.
    • Yeah, wait!

      Wait, Wait, Wait for the Bright Future. By Microsoft.

      By the way, life is short. But you always have choice.. to wait.
      • What alternative would you suggest right now?

        Surface Pro is already an outstanding device.

        Tablets/hybrids using Atom cpus are already more functional that their Android/iOS counterparts.

        What would you suggest users pick up other than those to fit their needs... instead of waiting?

        Haswell will further expand on the functionality of Windows8 and OSx devices in the coming months. If someone wants to wait a few months for devices that are going to have better resolutions, faster graphics and processing, longer battery life, it wouldn't be a bad idea. Yet if someone wants a device that is more than an entertainment companion device, they have options for that right now.
        • yes, and

          Imagine, 10 years ago -- telling people they should not have used their (then current) computers, because some day, there will be better computers/devices.

          The expected improvements with Haswell are not that dramatic as many describe. Nor are the improvements in the next generation Atom CPUs -- it is either better performance or more battery life.

          In fact, we have already seen the steady improvements flatten and only see the increasing of the dynamics: for example, you have this much power and this much performance -- you either spend more power and get the peak performance for short period of time, or spend less power and have more battery life.
          In order to get better performance and better battery life, we need new battery tech.

          Nothing Microsoft can help with here, unfortunately. They could, eventually move more of the software that runs on Windows to WinRT type of environment and they do try, indeed. They have also made many of the unpopular changes to Windows 8 exactly with that idea in mind (such as sinking Aero). But these steps are very unpopular... unfortunately and I can hardly see them able to force this on users, even if it's "for the good of those users".

          But, the idea that "anything which is not Windows is a toy" --- I don't buy, because that is nonsense in it's purest form. Both iOS and Android are as full features OSes as it gets.
          Won't change a bit whether you me and whoever believes it or not.
  • Wacom posts new driver

    Wacom has just posted a free driver for tablets and computers with Wacom Feel IT! technology inside. This driver gives you pressure sensitivity in @Adobe and @Corel apps on some tablets and Tablet PC computers. For more info:
  • It's amazing...

    Have we not read in this very forum how happy Surface Pro users are with their "active digitiser support" -- that sets their device apart from those "other poor tablets that don't run an real OS". Ignoring the fact that pressure sensitive pens have been available for the iPad and Android tablets for years, of course. I also remember some people claiming they are lining up to purchase the Surface Pro exactly because of this functionality.

    So how it turns out now, this functionality of the Surface Pro is still not available? When will it come? After the current Surface Pro is obsoleted by a new model? Tomorrow? Next year.

    We have been joking heavily with out PTT in the past, that they always promised for new services to arrive "in April" or "in September" --- they would only forget to mention the year when that happens. Now I understand who their inspiration has been -- or it might be the other way around, who knows. Or who cares.
    • Clearly... care enough to troll anything MS-related.
      • reading?

        I don't care who borrowed from whom. Both over promise and under deliver.
        I also don't think anybody cares ether, except perhaps those company lawyers, in suing the other party over the April/September idea. :)

        Does your Surface Pro pressure sensitive pen work already?
        • pressure sensitivity is there

          Pressure sensetivity does work in many apps with the existing driver. PhotoShop and the others that require Wacom as opposed to the MS driver are the ones that are having problems.
    • The active digitizer works

      BUT it doesn't have the superior Wacom drivers yet.

      Wacom isn't the only driver out there, it's just the best.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Youre're confusing yourself with the little you know on the subject.

      You're confused by what is actually pressure sensitivity. Those iPad stylus that advertise pressure sensitivity, are not truly measuring pressure. They simulate it by seeing how much of the tip is touching the screen, because it is only conductive. Hardly accurate, not even close to the 1024 levels of pressure that the inductive stylus on the Surface Pro can detect. The aftermarket Android stylus are the same, though there's a couple with the inductive Wacom technology, Galaxy S for example. The conductive pressure sensitive pens are merely a gimmick, hardly worthy of getting. So I'm not sure why you'd even brag about them?

      The Surface Pro already had pressure sensitivity built it, using the driver's that Microsoft has made. So it only worked with the apps that incorporated their driver, like Sketchbook Pro, Anime Studio, and several other paint apps found in the store. They needed the drivers from Wacom to get it to work with software that would not use Microsoft's driver...Adobe, Pixologic, Corel, etc. Now it is out, just another update that will benefit those artists that took the jump and got a Surface Pro.
      Chad Voller