Microsoft Ships Major OneNote for Windows 10 Update … But Only to Skip Ahead Insiders

Microsoft this week is documenting a major update to OneNote for Windows 10. But only the select few Windows Insiders who signed up for the Skip Ahead ring, now closed to the public, can access the update.

So a few points of clarification here.

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Windows 10 users can access two versions of the OneNote app. One, called OneNote for Windows 10, and the subject of this post, is a UWP mobile app that is included with Windows 10. The other, called OneNote 2016, is available for free from the web as a standalone desktop application, or via various Office 365 subscriptions.

(Confusing matters, Microsoft is bringing the desktop Office/365 suites to the Windows Store, but it is not porting OneNote 2016 as part of this effort. This suggests that OneNote for Windows 10 is “the future” of OneNote, and that at some point Microsoft might actually stop updating the desktop version of the application.)

And then there’s Skip Ahead, that most misbegotten of Windows Insider rings. As you may recall,Microsoft announced in July that it would temporarily offer a new ring to Insiders called Skip Ahead that would let them test Redstone 4, the version of Windows 10 expected in March 2018, instead of the Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3). But Skip Ahead wasn’t just temporary—it will be closed when the Fall Creators Update is completed—it was also limited to an unknown number of participants. So if you see today’s OneNote for Windows 10 news and think, gee, I’d really love to check that out, but you haven’t yet signed up for Skip Ahead—doh!—it’s already too late.

To recap, the features described below are coming to OneNote sometime after the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. And they can only be tested by a small group of Insiders in with PCs in the Skip Ahead ring at this time. Sorry.

So here’s what Microsoft has announced is new to OneNote for Windows 10 version 17.8568.5751.

Convert handwriting to text. Now, you can select handwritten notes in your notes and convert them to text. Just select the Lasso Select button on the Draw tab, drag a circle around the notes you want to convert, and then click Ink to Text.

New ink effects. Office 365 subscribers can access new lava, ocean, bronze, and rose gold ink effects from the Drawing tab.

New graph features. Office 365 subscribers can now calculate its new graphing features like minima, maxima, and axes intercepts.

Recent pages. New Forward and Back buttons above the Home tab can be used to navigate through the note pages you’ve already visited.

Paragraph links. Now, you can create a link to a specific paragraph and jump right to that content. “It’s a great way to make a quick table of contents at the top of a long page of notes, or copy the link and paste it in an email to help others find the specific content you want them to see,” Microsoft says.

Copy a hyperlink. Now, you can right-click a hyperlink in your notes and copy the link to the Clipboard so you can use it elsewhere.


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  • Rob_Wade

    08 September, 2017 - 9:55 am

    <p>I actually have version <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">17.8568.57511.0. I didn't see the new features until I went into Settings-&gt;Options-&gt;Enable Experimental Features.</span></p>

    • Neil M

      08 September, 2017 - 6:36 pm

      <p><em>i</em><a href="#174865"><em>n reply to Rob_Wade:</em></a></p><p><br></p><p><em>I'm also on </em>version&nbsp;<span style="background-color: transparent;">17.8568.57511.0 however the new features seemed to be there without having to enable the experimental features. (I haven't noticed any other new items after enabling… but thanks for noticing the option. I'll leave it on and see what shows up)</span></p><p><br></p>

  • jhoff80

    08 September, 2017 - 9:59 am

    <p>For what it's worth, they are testing OneNote 2016 in the Store as well, but they suggest it's only if your school or work requires it:</p><p><br></p><p>Edit: Link's not working, scroll to the bottom of:</p><p><br></p><p>That being said, the OneNote team has pretty much flat-out stated that all work going forward is on the (inferior, though obviously getting better) UWP version. Me personally, I don't understand that, but whatever.</p><p><br></p><p>I mean, I get the need for a lighter version of OneNote just like I understand the need for a lighter version of Word. But I wouldn't in a million years recommend based on that that Microsoft stops development on Word 2016. I mean, it's sad that not very many outside the tech sphere know about it, but OneNote 2016 is up there with the best of what Microsoft has developed. And to just abandon it for something that is less powerful by design is just ridiculous to me. Oh well. At least there's a Store version of it to go with the Store version of Office 365 I guess.</p>

    • Stooks

      08 September, 2017 - 11:22 am

      <blockquote><a href="#174866"><em>In reply to jhoff80:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Word and OneNote are vastly different in terms of feature set. My point is that OneNote will be much, much more easier to go full UWP simply because it does less.</p><p><br></p><p>Going full UWP is all about available API's. Right now UWP does not have API parity with Win32. So if you are trying to port you app to UWP and it makes a API call in Win32 to do whatever and that is not in UWP right now….then you have a problem. You either don't port, take out that feature if possible, or come up with a workable UWP alternative.</p><p><br></p><p>I think most developers are just waiting. In 2020 Windows 10 will be the only supported version of Windows and be the majority OS. Also hopefully by 2020 UWP API parity with Win32 should be much better if not complete. </p><p><br></p><p>Windows 10 is the bridge OS, meaning it can run both Win32 and UWP. IF (big IF) UWP ever becomes the standard then Windows 10 S or whatever will be the future.</p>

      • jhoff80

        08 September, 2017 - 11:31 am

        <blockquote><a href="#174888"><em>In reply to Stooks:</em></a></blockquote><p>"OneNote will be much, much more easier to go full UWP simply because it does less."</p><p><br></p><p>That's just not at all true. I mean, it's true about the UWP version for sure but desktop OneNote 2016 is very powerful software. I suspect the real reason they get away with doing this for OneNote and not Word is because of what I alluded to in the original post: practically everyone uses Word, but almost nobody knows of OneNote.</p>

  • SvenJ

    08 September, 2017 - 10:09 am

    <p>Not sure why you characterize this as a <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">UWP </span><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">mobile</em><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;"> app. You clearly have figured out it is the future, and can see the effort being made to make this UWP application feature comparable with OneNote 2016. It does run on mobile as is the intent for UWP apps, to ensure the user isn't disadvantaged regardless of the platform. Kudos to the OneNote team for their efforts here. Shame on the rest of Office for not doing the same with Office Mobile, resorting to the bridge to bring a usable, full featured version of other office apps to the store.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">OneNote shows that decent full featured applications are possible in UWP. The rest of Office shows not even MS seems willing to make the effort. Maybe it is too much to expect others to embrace UWP, but come on MS. If you believe in it, show it. </span></p><p>BTW, if you use OneNote, give the UWP app a chance. If you find something missing that you need, note it in feedback. That's how they prioritize what gets done next. I find less and less, and find things less often as they are infrequently used features (for me).</p>

    • jhoff80

      08 September, 2017 - 11:17 am

      <blockquote><a href="#174872"><em>In reply to SvenJ:</em></a></blockquote><p>OneNote UWP has gotten better. But it still has a terrible fullscreen view, inferior tagging, worse meeting details (you need to log in to an Office 365 account to pull Meeting Details, which means you're SOL if you have on-premises Exchange – this makes even less sense considering W10 has a calendar API they could pull directly from), issues with searching for handwritten notes (despite claims that this works – try as I might, the only way my handwritten notes ever get indexed for searching is by opening up the desktop app), worse audio recording support (which in 2016 follows along with your notes as it plays back), no ability to embed documents, no template or page size support (as in, UWP doesn't support them unless you set it in 2016 first), and many other problems. But hey, at least the UWP version has more glitter pens.</p><p><br></p><p>Microsoft themselves still describe UWP OneNote as "a <em>simplified version</em> of OneNote that is updated regularly with new features." It's not full-featured, it's not meant to be, and while they add new features, it's never going to do everything that OneNote 2016 does… so I'm not even entirely sure what your complaint is… that Paul described it the same way Microsoft does?</p>

      • SvenJ

        08 September, 2017 - 4:19 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#174885"><em>In reply to jhoff80:</em></a> MS may post that description, which does not say mobile BTW, but that is not their intent internally. I would repeat. If you want those features in the UWP version, make it known. The fact that OneNote was the one Office 2016 app that was not ported via the Centennial bridge for Win 10 S and the store, should be a clue.</blockquote><blockquote>I can embed documents, BTW. Background OCR for search is one of my pain points as well.</blockquote><p><br></p>

        • jhoff80

          08 September, 2017 - 4:45 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#174978"><em>In reply to SvenJ:</em></a></blockquote><p>It actually was ported with Centennial (see my post below), but yes, I'm aware that Microsoft is stopping development on desktop OneNote in favor of UWP. It's still a mistake akin to cancelling Word in favor of UWP Word as far as I'm concerned. Fair that Microsoft doesn't explicitly state mobile, though I meant more that they also refer to it in lesser terms like Paul did.</p><p><br></p><p>For what it's worth all of the feedback I mentioned above is stuff I submitted in Feedback ages ago. (And I won't even go into detail about how OneNote is horrible on W10M too, since almost no functionality is made visible unless you connect to a Continuum screen – all of the other Office apps use a modified ribbon on phone – OneNote just instead doesn't let you do anything.)</p><p><br></p><p>Last I checked (~10 days ago when I was playing with Windows 10S on my old Surface Pro 2), you can attach documents to OneNote UWP, but can't embed them. So I can't have a spreadsheet viewable in the body of my notes like I can with OneNote 2016. When I inserted it, it showed as the file icon. I suspect that one is due to the sandboxed nature of the UWP platform and is completely unfixable. The same goes for the lack of Linked Notes.</p>

          • SvenJ

            09 September, 2017 - 11:18 am

            <blockquote><a href="#174994"><em>In reply to jhoff80:</em></a> Ah, OK. Don't have a Surface Laptop so don't even see OneNote (2016) in the store on my S devices. Misunderstood what you were looking for on the embedding. I think of embedding as being within the file, not a link to an external file. Not sure I've ever embedded like you are using it. Not in OneNote anyway. Do this with Excel or Visio into a Word doc. </blockquote><blockquote>They are looking at the feedback and working on it. Not a very big team doing it. Sort of indicative of how MS is supporting UWP, unfortunately. </blockquote><p><br></p>

  • harmjr

    Premium Member
    08 September, 2017 - 1:56 pm

    <p>I cannot wait for this new version to be released for general public. (Non-Skip or any ring.)</p><p><br></p><p>They still need a better search feature.</p><p>Sync this section/page button for quick syncing.</p><p>Send Email button for Outlook 2016.</p>

  • Username

    08 September, 2017 - 7:47 pm

    <p>Been using since purchasing "OneNote 2003". It's great for casual noting, however, from beginning, two feature I always needed: Style Sheets (ala. Word) and Read-only toggle per note. These still aren't available.</p>

  • prettyconfusd

    09 September, 2017 - 9:49 am

    <p>OneNote is a brilliant example of what can be done with UWP and it's a shame all groups at Microsoft aren't following their lead. </p><p><br></p><p>Same app design across the web and apps on all platform, a great UI and UX that works well with both mouse and touch, constantly updated with useful features, and simple enough for anyone to pickup and use without help. In a lot of ways it's even better than the desktop version.</p><p><br></p><p>There's still a few legacy management things that aren't available or are just easier currently on the desktop app (for example I'm currently transferring a load of student notebooks from an old Office 365 account to a new one – that's just easier to manage with the desktop version, but this is a real fringe case.) but this year I've moved to the modern app entirely for all my students and even for myself personally and professionally.</p>

  • aengineer

    Premium Member
    12 September, 2017 - 8:34 am

    <p>A critical feature for the way I use ON is the "folding" capability. That doesn't appear to be available in the web version(s). If that disappears when the desktop version sunsets ON becomes almost useless for me.</p>

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