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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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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.

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