Microsoft’s OneNote note taking system has always been a favorite among certain communities but the fact that it has only been available paid as part of the Office suite has left it a niche product for most. In the last few months there have been indications that this will change and yesterday it did. OneNote is now free for everyone.

So apart from the headline of going free what do users get?

  • An updated Mac version.  If a note taking solution is going to be successful then it needs to be available everywhere and the addition of the Mac version means that it is now available on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Windows RT, Windows Phone and has an updated web interface.
  • A browser clipper that supports Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  There was previously an Explorer version and hacks available to make this possible on Firefox and Chrome but it is now officially and simply available.
  • Email access – the ability to add notes via email using a person specific email address.
  • Possibly most importantly they have released an api that will allow others to plug into OneNote and expand its functionality. At the moment they have a reasonable list of launch partners, most notably Feedly, IFTTT and Livescribe and partnerships with several scanner manufactures to help to transfer paper to electronic notes.


So will this all make a difference?  Will OneNote match up to the elephant in the room – Evernote?  Evernote’s big advantage is that it has been everywhere but this has now been matched. I use both and feel that Evernote is better as a document storage system but OneNote is better and more flexible as a note taking system. OneNote will certainly get a big bump in usage and if they continue to roll out new features may pick up momentum. If you are in the habit of note taking it is well worth investigating but data lock in for users of other systems may prove that Microsoft’s move is just too late for many.

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