Microsoft is taking a whiteboard experience like the one that ships with its Surface Hub hardware and making it available to Windows 10 users.
Not all businesses have the budget or room for a Surface Hub digital white board display with a starting price of about $7,000, but there's a good chance that their users have access to a PC. Catering to this market, on Dec. 5 the software maker announced the preview release of its Microsoft Whiteboard app for Windows 10.
As its name suggests, the app provides a canvas for sketching out ideas, illustrating concepts, collaborating on designs and any other task that can be done on a typical whiteboard that's mounted on a conference room wall. But it takes things a step further, allowing users to turn their doodles into polished and shareable files.
"With the preview of Microsoft Whiteboard, you can use intelligent ink that recognizes your freeform drawings and turns them into standard shapes, so it's easy to create great-looking tables, diagrams, and flowcharts," wrote Microsoft representatives in blog post.
"And unlike traditional whiteboards, the app automatically saves your boards, so you can pick up where you left off or share links to your boards, so others can build on top of your work. No need to take photos of your canvas or email photos to others when you need to get them up to speed," the blog stated.
Users can embellish their boards by importing photos and adding sticky notes. A gesture-based interface allows users to move to different areas of a board, collect images into a stack or turn the app's virtual ruler to a desired angle.
They can also use their fingers to hurriedly scribble down fleeting ideas or a stylus for precise and detailed drawings, provided that their Windows 10 devices support those input methods. The app's real-time collaboration capabilities allow multiple participants to draw on the same canvas using their own PCs.
Although anyone with a Windows 10 device can use the app, multi-party scenarios require that at least one participant have an Office 365 account (work, school or personal). A Microsoft or Office 365 account is required to save boards.
According to Microsoft, the app is used internally to draw up engineering plans that require input from multiple remote users. In a private beta, marketing agencies have used it to collaborate with clients on product design ideas and startups have used it to brainstorm and create mockups, according to company officials.
Microsoft Whiteboard is a no-cost download from the Microsoft Store app marketplace. Currently, it is only available in English, but it is expected to be released in other languages in the coming months.
On the Surface Hub, the new app will eventually replace the whiteboard app that ships with the device, Microsoft said. Early adopters can download the Microsoft Whiteboard preview and run it alongside the soon-to-be-retired app.
More information, including a FAQ with additional details for IT administrators and end-users, is available here.