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Ina Fried

Staff Writer, CNET

A glitch in the latest version of Microsoft’s Tablet PC software is causing significant performance problems for those running the new operating system, the company has confirmed.

The bug is in the redesigned virtual ink input menu in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, released last year. Over time, the panel that handles pen input eats up more and more of a system’s resources, choking off computing power needed for other programs.

A Microsoft representative said late Tuesday that the company is aware of the issue, which appears to affect all machines running the latest version of the Tablet OS. The representative said Microsoft hopes to have a fix soon. However, the company did not offer a specific time frame for a solution.

Until a fix is ready, Microsoft is advising those running the OS to reboot their machines daily. The Microsoft representative said that most users already reboot daily and said those who do so are unlikely to notice any performance problems.

The feature in question, known as the Tablet Input Panel, or TIP, was overhauled in the latest version of the tablet software, in an effort to improve pen input from within existing programs. Windows XP Tablet PC has all the functions of standard Windows XP, with the added option of enabling people to use a digital pen to input text, draw graphics or move the cursor.

The revamped input panel and improved overall handwriting recognition were two of the main features Microsoft touted when it launched the affected version of Windows XP Tablet PC. The update, code-named Lonestar, was released last fall alongside Windows XP Service Pack 2.

The memory problem was reported late last month by enthusiast site Tablet PC Talk. The site noted that the program starts out using about 10MB of memory, but that usage can swell to more than 150MB after a couple weeks’ continuous use.