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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]

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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.

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