Print 14 comment(s) - last by Imaginer.. on Mar 21 at 4:08 PM

Microsoft is also opening the floodgates to third parties to use OneNote via APIs

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Notepad and Wordpad have long felt a little long in the tooth, lacking dedicate support for features like autosaving and cloud backup.  One option, of course, was to turn to third-party apps, but Microsoft had its own beefed up notes app; OneNote.  The only problem was that you generally needed an Office suite license or an Office 365 subscription to access OneNote.

I. OneNote Goes Freemium

That's about to change.  Microsoft announced this week that it will be offering a slightly downgraded version of OneNote for both Windows and Mac users, via the platforms' respective app stores.  The new app will reportedly lack a handful of power user/enterprise features, such as Sharepoint support and Outlook integration.

Clearly Microsoft was feeling the heat from sleek competitors like Evernote.

Here's how the new free Mac version looks...

OneNote for Mac

And as a refresher, here's how the Windows version (now free) looks...

OneNote for Windows

It should be interesting to watch whether the rest of Office gets shifted to such a Freemium model, one which Stephen Elop reportedly advocated when he was campaigning to become CEO of Microsoft (Servers boss Satya Nadella instead received the nod).

In related news, Microsoft also announced it would be releasing an API for third-party apps to integrate OneNote.

OneNote API apps

Japanese printing and scanning giants Brother Industries, Ltd. (TYO:6448) and Seiko Epson Corp. (TYO:6724) are among the early adopters to put forth OneNote enabled apps.  News clipping apps such as Weave News and News360 also added support, as did Doxie Scans, an app that looks to turn your mobile devices into portable scanners.  A full list of Microsoft-featured OneNote API-enabled apps can be found here.

II. Office Lens, Office Clipper Make a Splash

Microsoft also announced a slick new Windows Phone app called "Office Lens" which interfaces your Windows Phone with your global OneNote account.  It allows you to snap photos, which you can enhance using cloud processing. It also offers optical character recognition technology that allows your phone to literally "see" text via its camera, which can then be inserted into OneNote entries.

Office Lens

Here's a view of the app in action...

Office Lens in action

...and a demo video from Microsoft:

Microsoft also offered a handy tool called OneNote Clipper that makes it easier to copy and paste entire webpages (particularly news articles) into a OneNote entry.

Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS include third-party OCR support from various app makers, but this looks like one of the most tightly integrated and efficient OCR apps available on the market -- definitely a boost for Windows Phone.

Sources: Microsoft [1], [2]

Comments     Threshold

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By aurareturn on 3/17/2014 4:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
I use evernote because it's free but I actually prefer OneNote's interface. Plus, the Lens app looks pretty cool.

RE: Nice
By Solandri on 3/17/2014 5:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
Same boat as me. I prefer OneNote, but I use Evernote because that way I'm guaranteed to be able to share notes with others (like sharing company info for our family-owned business with family members). With OneNote, the only way I could share was if everyone in my family had a copy of OneNote. That meant they all had to have Office, which not all of them do.

(If you have no idea what OneNote or Evernote are, and you have Post-it notes stuck everywhere, PLEASE give them a try. They're a great tool for storing any and all data you'd normally keep on small scraps of paper here and there.)

RE: Nice
By Mitch101 on 3/17/2014 5:02:39 PM , Rating: 3
With One Note Ive seen people video record meetings and take notes at the same time. The cool part is if they cant recall what the note was about they can play back the video to remind them of that point in time. pretty slick stuff highly underrated.

RE: Nice
By StevoLincolnite on 3/18/2014 5:15:06 AM , Rating: 2
...And I only use it for my shopping lists...

RE: Nice
By Drafter on 3/17/2014 5:56:16 PM , Rating: 2
I share my OneNotes with coworkers through my SkyDrive sharepoint. I don't remember how to set it up, but you basically send your OneNotes to your skydrive and then create a link that can be shared with anyone. And if you log on to your SkyDrive from a browser, you can use OneNote without having MS Office installed. I use/edit my OneNotes with my Nexus7 tablet sometimes.

RE: Nice
By sgestwicki on 3/17/2014 6:09:21 PM , Rating: 2
That is how my wife and I share our personal OneNote notebook. Now that the have a free version maybe I will be able to get more people hooked on it.

RE: Nice
By sgestwicki on 3/17/2014 6:07:03 PM , Rating: 2
The Office Lens app looks great! Does anyone have any idea when it will be available for iOS and Android?

RE: Nice
By Labotomizer on 3/17/2014 10:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
It does. That app is almost reason enough to accelerate moving back to WP sooner. The normal pics I take of whiteboards just don't always seem to cut it.

As for OneNote, well... I honestly believe it is the best new feature of Office in the last 7 years. It really is THAT good. I use it constantly. Personal Notebook, Company Notebook, Financial notebook. Tabs for various clients. It's a wonderful, wonderful tool and I probably only use 25% of everything it's capable of.

RE: Nice
By robinthakur on 3/18/2014 7:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
There are lots of apps that do that picture taking, cropping, perpective changing thing already out for iOS an Android: Genius Scan and Scanner pro to name but a couple I have installed. I wouldn't necessarily say that Microsoft's version will be better just because it uses magical "Cloud processing" and was designed by the same geniuses that gave us Windows 8...The only thing which would be useful to corproates is to have it installed as standard on Windows Phones so it can integrate with Office, SharePoint, MSCRM etc.

MS need to talk up their web apps more, they are excellent, and hardly anybody knows they exist or how to use them or Office 365. I will definitely download Onenote for Mac to take a look, but I'm already really invested in Evernote to store work notes and recipes, to be able change over completely unless there's some sort of importer.

By Grant.Nihon on 3/18/2014 5:56:01 AM , Rating: 2
I've been waiting for a Mac version of OneNote for ages. I've even gone so far as to install Parallels just to get OneNote into my iMac and Macbook Air, and it was quite a clunky solution.

I don't know how much this has to do with Satya Nadella taking the reigns over at Microsoft, but he certainly saved himself a customer. I've been flirting with Evernote for the past month, but now I know I can keep going steady with my highschool sweetheart.

Now only if they'd iron out the sync issues I keep running into using with Skydrive (or whatever they're calling it now) and offer a iPad app that has the same functionality as the desktop version, then I'd be a happy camper.

RE: Thrilled
By robinthakur on 3/18/2014 7:26:08 AM , Rating: 2
OMG, the sync issues with One Drive/Skydrive on OSX are so annoying, I thought it was just me. They need to sort this out, as it really puts you off using it as a Cloud system, and there are lots of decent alternatives. Their Office strategy for iOS is a joke though, so I'm not surprised there is no continuity.

You have the iPhone Office app for editing which only works in portrait mode (!) and lacks copy/paste and other modern features and which works only with a Office 365 subscription, then you also have Onedrive and OneDrive Pro plus all the other OneNote esque apps. However you have no Office app on the iPad whatsoever, so everybody at my old company had to buy alternative office apps or just use the Apple ones. Talk about missing out on sales...millions of people would subscribe overnight to O365 if they just offered a decent office suite for the iPad.

They should give up on Surface, it's a dead duck in terms of mass adoption, nobody's going to buy it just to use Office anymore, those halcyon days for Microsoft existed before the iPad launched. Perhaps MS is starting to see sense however.

RE: Thrilled
By Imaginer on 3/21/2014 3:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
Surface? Possibly, if the next one can have an AMD or Intel Bay Trail like solution - thus still keeping the RT side of software (since RT apps work just as well in x86 Windows 8) and the added benefit of previous desktop applications in places like Windows 7. It isn't a hard process to migrate over from since if you have an RT solution, getting a full Windows 8 solution would mean you gain a software working space.

Surface Pro and Pro 2? You are crazy to think such a product like this should go away in my opinion (unless you do not have one and saying it out of spite).

Both the Surface and Surface Pro adopted a new device paradigm in their cover systems that keeps the components in the screen - while boldly eliminating components in the keyboard. I have not seen any other PC OEM do this (most of them use detach tablet with a dock that cannot fold back completely, mechanical hinges to keep the light keyboard and port dock solid, the hinge mechanism not allowing full fold back of the tablet section (which is understandable) or keep the laptop model but have a 360 degree hinge).

Not to mention, tablet PCs (before the Samsung ATIV and Surface Pro up to this point) settled on a swivel hinge design, and maintained the usual laptop chassis for the keyboard and components.

It isn't noticeable since you can get after market bluetooth keyboards and folios... but would be as thick as the cover system in the Surface Pros with a wireless connectivity concern. A pure tablet in one of those things (in computing and software loadouts) can't compare.

Lets not forget that little thing called the pen that pretty much is what some Tablet PC prospects want in drawing, notes, diagramming, painting, and such. Because buying that separate Cintiq display (or a USB digitizer that has a disconnect from the screen to pen - to a laptop) is still a spaghetti solution.

Even if you do have a capacitive stylus, it is still registering a point and tablet capacitive displays aren't pressure sensitive. Meaning strokes aren't as "pen" like.

I love OneNote
By sgestwicki on 3/17/2014 6:01:05 PM , Rating: 3
I started using the 2007 version of OneNote at work and love it. I showed my wife the program and she loved it even more than I did so we bought for personal use. I have been telling people about EverNote because of the cost of OneNote but with this new free version I won't have to anymore.

RE: I love OneNote
By Imaginer on 3/21/2014 4:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
Part of the reason of OneNote not being noticed until now, was that OneNote always have existed since 2003. Guess what else existed then? The Tablet PC.

The iPad came about in 2010. This was when people took notice to tablet computing. However, tablet PCs always existed before this and so did Office. XP tablet editions also existed and hence when a new Office came about, so did a productivity software to take advantage of it, OneNote.

I would have wanted the Fujitsu Lifebook, but needed more than the hardware that was inside it at the time, despite Wacom pen technology inside. It also bolstered a swivel hinge, which in practice was not as quickly deployable in a tablet mode as newer solutions today in tablet PCs.

I very much leverage OneNote for my notes, diagrams, and other non-linear mannerisms of content recording, documentation, and sharing. Pretty much something I would like and see as a very good piece of software. Tied with a Tablet PC that can pretty much put anything inside the notebooks of OneNote and gather information or export to process in the same machine, and it is a definite win.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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