Future of OneNote


With the death of UWP, is there any chance that Microsoft will walk back the decision to force users towards the UWP version of OneNote, despite the fact that it is significantly less capable than the desktop version? It would be good to see a OneNote 2019 rather than have any more effort spent on a version showcasing technology that they are clearly walking away from.

Comments (28)

28 responses to “Future of OneNote”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    Anything is possible, but I doubt it.

  2. Vladimir Carli

    To be honest I have no idea about the technology behind it. However, I can say that a few months ago I tried to move my entire team to using onenote, because it is included in our Office 365 business subscription and it felt a waste to pay for other services.

    It has been a disaster, sharing notebooks is not intuitive, the sync fails or halts completely for apparently no reason, the only solution being removing all notebooks and restarting from scratch. We could not find a simple way to share a notebook from within the app. When we try, no one else sees the notebook in the list because a "shared with me" files access button is unexplicably absent. The only way we found was to go on onedrive, manually selecting the notebook, opening the notebook on the online version of onenote and then clicking the button to open it on the app. All this is bad quality, is not discoverable, is not intuitive. We cannot spend hours training each employee about how to access our shared notebooks. The outcome was that we moved away and pay for another service. I am starting to think that we should give up office365 completely.

    In my opinion Microsoft does the same mistake over and over again, it continues to release new features that no one really wants or needs but the basics are missing. All applications are clumsy, unreliable end prone to errors. Everyone uses word and excel because they are de facto standards but that's about it. Will they ever learn?

    Something similar applies to Teams, it's a nice app and it works fine for our remote meetings. But again it's clumsy. Why can't you see beyond one week in the calendar? I plan online meetings months ahead and after I add them they seem lost forever. I know I can see them in outlook but I don't use that. Many people on the team don't even have outlook installed. Sometimes I don't know what to think about the way microsoft develops software

  3. yaddamaster

    I switched a while ago and feel like I've given it a fair try over the last six months.

    I'm weary of the limitations and the ridiculous cloud support. Maybe it's just me but cleaning up notebooks and consolidating should be straightforward and simple. Deleting a notebook should be simple. Trying to track down the "real" location on onedrive and deleting from there is simply more hassle than I want to deal with. And having finally deleted a notebook it should not still continue to appears in my list of notebooks when I click "More Notebooks".

    I switched from Evernote and it's probably time to go back home. Microsoft does this from time to time - offers a killer competing product for free and then lets it languish.

  4. harmjr

    I think Microsoft will stick to its guns on this. Which Sucks. I believe they want the same user experience across all devices Windows, Web browser, MacOS, Android, iPhone and iPad. It may take them another 5 years but to me I can see the evolution.

    Also I dont know if OneNote for Windows 10 is truly a UWP app I some what dont think it is.

    I do think OneNote for Windows 10 will some day have an offline notebooks before ON2016 end of life because too many businesses will not allow the cloud storage option.

    But im still pissed off they removed scanning directly to ON2016. They now cost me so much more time to file records.

  5. Daekar

    I enjoy using both versions, but I would really like to know which one is going to be developed moving forward so I can just stick with that one and abandon whichever one isn't going to be primary moving forward. At the moment the "old" version is necessary for me because our team notebooks are hosted on the network rather than somewhere the UWP can see because of our IT policies.

  6. jchampeau

    I asked this same question a few weeks back in Ask Paul. I'm with you--I sure would like to see desktop OneNote resurrected and maintained like the other Office applications.

  7. paradyne

    I'd just like to offer the opposing view, just for balance!, I love the new OneNote and prefer to never open the old one at all. I use it across multiple devices and device types and to me a non-cloud storage of notebooks would be utterly pointless.

    Also, I am a developer, and I don't see UWP as dead at all. Now that you can use XAML Islands to make use of UWP API's in older applications, to update them a piece at a time, it's use will increase. I see a lot of confusion about what UWP truly is, If you want to build applications that make use of GPU accelerated rendering, animations, supporting all the input types, then the older API's are going to make that very hard to do.

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to paradyne:

      Sorry, but UWP is dead as Paul has reported in several articles.  Certainly you can continue using it. The technology will not disappear, as Microsoft typically leaves a lifeline for all of their technologies. Given the lack of traction it has established, I just do not believe that the majority of developers are going to update their applications to use it.

      The bigger issue with OneNote, as I see it, is that the new version is not remotely as powerful as OneNote 2016. The new OneNote is not a bad application, it simply lacks features. On the Home Menu, it is missing all integration with Outlook Tasks and Meetings, as well as the ability to email just a page. Sharing the notebook is not the same. On the Insert Menu, it lacks the ability to insert a screen clipping, something I use constantly for documentation. Having to resort to the Snipping Tool or the less capable Snip & Sketch (there is a pattern here) to grab the image and then paste it is not nearly as seamless. Then, of course, there is the inability to work with either local or networked notebooks. Not everything is suitable for the cloud.

      If you visit the links provided by halap3no, especially the first, you can find many more issues.

      What is more concerning is that Microsoft does not seem to be enhancing either version.

      • Todd Partridge

        In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

        You can share just a page right through the 'Share' feature. When you click it there is a 'Share the page' option that inserts the page into an email just like the old version.

        And meeting details....those are under the Insert menu. Add a page, select Insert menu, select 'Meeting Details' and it will pop up a view of your calendar/meetings, select the meeting and it's details are automatically inserted onto your page just like the old version.

        • AnOldAmigaUser

          In reply to Todd_Partridge:

          Did miss the bit about the meetings, thanks for that. I have not found options for tasks, if you have I would be glad to know. I do use the new version, several times a week. I just find that I cannot really author anything beyond the most basic with it, and of course, not all of my notebooks live in the cloud.

          Not sure which version you are using, but Share only offers the option to share the Notebook, which would be a bit more than I want to share.

          They did add that enterprise feature, "Stickers". Everything looks more professional with a cat in a suit. I am old, but it bothers me that someone was paid real money to add that feature.

        • red.radar

          In reply to Todd_Partridge:

          Last time I checked. If you shared the page via email it forced you to use windows Mail. Not Outlook. That was a non-starter. Like the developers maliciously complied to the feedback hub request but missed the intent.

      • paradyne

        In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

        Oh, and I like your username, I started out as a games developer on Amiga, still have fond memories of 68000 assembler and programming Portia, Agnes and Daphne :-)

        • AnOldAmigaUser

          In reply to paradyne:

          Thanks. I still have a 1000 with a Starboard memory add-on that I break out occasionally to play "Defender of the Crown". I probably ended up in IT because that platform was such an orphan.

          I agree with your assessment, the UWP stuff is not going away, I just do not see as much need for fluid/fluent interfaces without a mobile platform. It will take some new form factors to bring back the need. Winforms and WPF are fine for PCs.

      • paradyne

        In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

        Paul can report it all he likes, but as of yet it doesn't look like he truly grasps exactly what 'it' (uwp) actually is. If you are making an application for Windows and want it to have a fluid/fluent interface that makes use of all the input types, mouse, inking, touch etc. then if you only use the old Windows API (used to be called Win32) then you are in for a world of pain and anguish. If you want to use C# then your choices are WinForms (a wrapper around the old windows UI, not accelerated) or WPF (kinda moving forward again now as it's gone open source with .net Core 3.0) or using the UWP API's (be it store app or not) which were designed to be asynchronous and GPU accelerated.

        What they call it may change, what limitations on use it has may change (XAML Islands letting you mix it in with the other older technologies for example) but it's not 'dead', it will just evolve and merge with the old and with whatever comes next.

    • wright_is

      In reply to paradyne:
      I use it across multiple devices and device types and to me a non-cloud storage of notebooks would be utterly pointless.

      We use it across multiple devices and multiple users. The notebooks are stored centrally on our servers and anyone in our network with OneNote 201x and the relevant access rights can open them and work on them, at full gigabit speed.

      For personal use, I use the cloud version. For business use, I have to use the on-site files.

      • paradyne

        In reply to wright_is:

        So the question of storage location is the main problem then?

        I really wasn't trying to say that people are wrong to have that point of view, just that there are others.

        • wright_is

          In reply to paradyne:

          Yes, we are not allowed to use any cloud services for company information.

          We have Microsoft 365, for example, but OneDrive for Busines, Teams, Exchange Online, Azure AD etc. are all disabled. We use the Sharepoint, Exchange and File Server CALs from the subscription, plus Office 365 Pro Plus.

  8. halap3n0

    This is one of the most unpopular thing they have done for Office. No Enterprises even allow use of the Windows Store (or store for business). Look at the comments on the post when they announced that OneNote desktop was dead - all of the comments are negative https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Education-Blog/The-best-version-of-OneNote-on-Windows/ba-p/183726

    Also on uservoice the #2 item is to bring back Onenote as part of Office, and there are many other topics for the same https://onenote.uservoice.com/forums/327186-onenote-for-windows/filters/top

    Microsoft are completely ignoring all the noise on this, it was a bad decision and they need to do something to rectify this mess.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to halap3n0:

      How do you know they are ignoring what you call noise? Maybe there are other reasons they are doing what they are doing.

      • red.radar

        In reply to lvthunder:

        My theory is Office is moving 100% UWP and Onenote was the first port. Moving Office for windows to UWP they can harmonize Mac, android, web and windows versions.

        In true fashion Microsoft is not communicating and the users are left guessing what the strategy is.

  9. wright_is

    We can live in hope. We are stuck with the desktop version, because, for security reasons, all documents must remain behind our firewall and the OneNote UWP only opens cloud documents.