Microsoft's plans to refresh OneNote

[German]Microsoft has announced this week plans how to refresh its OneNote software.  There is, after all, an app for Windows 10 and there is still the classic OneNote 2016 application for the desktop, which was installed with Microsoft Office. Over the next 12 months, a series of updates are expected to bring improvements.


The two OneNote apps

The problem with OneNote is that the desktop app (OneNote 2016) and the Windows 10 OneNote app diverge functionally. The Windows 10 app cannot match the features of the desktop app. Microsoft has highlighted the differences between the two OneNote variants in this document. There is:

  • OneNote (formerly called "OneNote 2016"), the free desktop app that runs on all supported versions of Microsoft Windows and is part of Office 2019 and Microsoft 365.
  • OneNote for Windows 10, the OneNote app that comes pre-installed on all editions of Windows 10 and can also be downloaded for free from the Microsoft Store.

The OneNote desktop app on Windows is part of Office 2019 and Microsoft 365, but it can also be downloaded as a standalone app and used on any PC. It runs on any currently supported version of Windows – including all editions of Windows 10. The OneNote desktop app has a full Office ribbon interface that can be permanently displayed or hidden as needed. The current notebook's colored section tabs are displayed horizontally on the screen, and the list of page tabs is displayed on the right side of the screen by default.

This is the only version of OneNote that supports local notebook storage on your PC's hard drive in addition to cloud storage. It is also the version of OneNote that offers the most customization options (File > Options). As of March 2020, when you install Office 2019 or Microsoft 365, the OneNote desktop app is installed alongside the Word, PowerPoint, and Excel desktop apps.

The OneNote for Windows 10 app is pre-installed and ready to use on all editions of Windows 10, but it can also be manually downloaded for free from the Microsoft Store. However, the app does not run on older Windows versions. OneNote for Windows 10 has a smaller, single-line ribbon interface at the top of the screen that can be permanently displayed or hidden as needed. When the navigation pane is shown, colored tabs for notebook sections are displayed vertically on the left side of the screen. The list of page tabs is displayed immediately to the right of the section tabs. Note storage is in the cloud, and you need Office 2019 or a Microsoft 365 subscription to unlock additional premium features like Ink Replay, Researcher and Math Assistant.

Microsoft's OneNote plans

In the blog post What's Coming to OneNote Microsoft has now announced that OneNote for Windows will receive a series of updates over the next 12 months. These updates include a visual refresh, the latest Microsoft Pen and Ink developments, a new navigation interface layout option that can be customized to meet customer preferences, and more.


Egal, welche OneNote-Anwendung verwendet wird, Microsoft will beiden Varianten ein Facelift und diese geplanten Updates spendieren. Die Pläne Microsofts gehen dahin, die beiden Apps zu vereinheitlichen, sodass die Einfachheit einer einzigen OneNote-App unter Windows genutzt werden kann. Gleichzeitig bleiben, so meine Lesart, aber die beiden OneNote-Varianten erhalten, so dass man die Desktop-App aber auch die Windows 10-App aus dem Store weiter verwenden kann. Beide bekommen neue Funktionen.

No matter which OneNote application is used, Microsoft plans to give both variants a facelift and these planned updates. Microsoft's plans are to unify the two apps so that the simplicity of a single OneNote app can be used on Windows. At the same time, as I read it, the two OneNote variants will remain, so you can continue to use the desktop app but also the Windows 10 app from the Store. Both will get new features. However, Windows 10 will end in 2025 and support for the Windows 10 OneNote app will end. In Windows 11, you can install the app from the Store.

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