Part 1 described the problem and Part 2 my attempts to resolve it. As the screen shot shows, I’ve now restored inking to Word (and Outlook) on my P1620. Since I’d like to avoid the next post in this blog being my funeral announcement, I fixed this issue on my wife’s P1620 too. (Lucky for me that like millions of Americans she doesn’t read this blog).
You probably want to know how I solved this. I’d like to tell you that it was a brilliant piece of inductive (or is it deductive?) reasoning. But it was more trial and error, hours of it. The inspiration finally came to me from reading the emails of the Fujitsu support engineer I mentioned in Part 2. (He shall go nameless as he modestly requested “since there are lots of people at Fujitsu that would have done the same as I did and this way they kinda-sorta get the credit too”). He told me did a plain vanilla Office 2007 install. I hadn’t, and instead had done a customized install removing supposedly optional components that I didn’t appear to need, as well as some programs (Access, InfoPath, Publisher) that I didn’t plan to use on the P1620. I was trying to save disk space, especially on my P1620 since my SSD is only 32GB. Apparently the road to Tablet PC hell is paved with good intentions.
AFAIK you can’t reinstall Office 2007 without removing it first. Therefore, I tried to duplicate a default install by adding back the removed components back via Control Panel > Programs and Features > Uninstall or change a program. That didn’t restore inking.
I have seen before that removing components breaks linkage that is not restored by adding back the component. You get the component back, but not the linkage that would be created if both components were installed at once. I therefore tried a fresh reinstall, first removing Office 2007. While on reinstallation I had to re-enter the 25 character product key, at least activation information is saved so I didn’t have to deal with the headache of telephoning activation because I had run out of attempts. After the default (non-customized) install, sure enough, inking was restored!
Proving George Santayana’s wisdom that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, or maybe Yogi Berra’s maxim “This is like déjà vu all over again”, I decided to save disk space by removing components of Office 2007 I felt I didn’t need. (This is also what I had done originally on my wife’s P1620 after a plain vanilla install). Dispensing with Access, InfoPath, Publisher and Visio Viewer was safe enough. However, tinkering with Office Shared Features, Office Tools, Word and Outlook was a bad idea. Inking stopped working. Adding back the components I just removed didn’t restore inking. As mentioned above, apparently once inking is broken by removal of a component, you can’t fix inking without a fresh reinstall. So again I removed and reinstalled Office 2007. I think I have that 25 character product key memorized. Finally, I installed Office 2007 SP1. Inking still works.
If my experience is correct, then there is something wrong with the Office 2007 setup if you can unknowingly break inking by removing ostensibly optional components that don’t appear related to inking. My experience also explains why, as a Google search demonstrates, this problem is relatively widespread (by no means limited to the P1620) and goes back over a year (so can’t be caused just by Vista SP1). Tablet PC users may be more prone to experiencing the broken inking problem because they tend to be “tweakers.” No, not in a drug sense, but instead in the sense of tweaking settings to maximize performance and minimize impact on disk space and RAM. Also, the fact that inking is not restored by adding back a removed component makes the diagnosis more difficult.
I also don’t know the extent (if at all) this issue relates to the fact that a passive as opposed to active digitizer is involved. Based on my conceptual understanding of how Vista and Office 2007 support Tablet PC functionality, it shouldn’t matter. But the vast majority of the posts I’ve seen on this issue seem to involve passive digitizers. I just don’t know enough about what goes on “under the hood” concerning Vista and Office 2007 support of Tablet PC functionality to provide an informed opinion on the extent to which a passive digitizer makes a difference on this issue.
I simply haven’t had time to figure out which of the myriad of supposedly optional Office 2007 components I can’t remove without breaking inking. Perhaps some
foolish intrepid reader will try to figure this out!