Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

Summary: Microsoft released a version of its OneNote note-taking application for the Apple iPhone on January 18. Starting today, Microsoft is making OneNote available as a free download from the iTunes store.


Microsoft released a version of its OneNote note-taking application for the Apple iPhone on January 18.

Starting today, in response to user requests, Microsoft is making OneNote Mobile for the iPhone available as a free download from the iTunes store, said Jason Bunge, Senior Director of Office Product Management. (I'm sure more than a few of the requests came from Microsoft employees with iPhones... but I digress.) The product will be free for a limited time period, the end date of which Microsoft is not specifying today.

Gallery: Microsoft's OneNote takes on the iPhone

Update: The OneNote application is available in the U.S. iTunes story only for now. Microsoft officials declined to say when support in other markets will be added.

The native iOS version of OneNote Mobile is the culmination of 18 to 24 months of development work by a team consisting of both Microsoft Mac Office and OneNote engineers, Bunge said.

OneNote Mobile for iPhone lets users take notes, capture and embed photos from their iPhone cameras and sync these automatically to their SkyDrive accounts, allowing them to access/share the notes across their Windows PCs, Windows Phone 7 devices and iPhones. Supported browsers for OneNote on iPhone include Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. There is no "out-of-the-box" Live Mesh or DropBox support for OneNote for the iPhone.

Microsoft has delivered very few iPhone apps to date. Others include Bing, Windows Live Messenger and the Microsoft Tag Reader. The Softies have not made available any iPad-specific apps -- though iPad users can run iPhone apps on their devices, if they don't mind the pixelated look (or if they've done an iPad jailbreak).

Before today, iPhone users could view, but not edit, OneNote notes on their phones using Microsoft's OneNote Web App. But the iPhone version enables a "full editing experience" on the iPhone, Bunge said.

Microsoft's decision to make a native iPhone version of OneNote leads to lots of questions -- so far without official answers. Will Microsoft release iPhone versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, too -- and if so, when? Bunge said no comment. Will Microsoft do an iPad-customized version of OneNote or any of the other Office suite applications? Another no comment.

(Actually, the official response is "In terms of other Office applications, there’s nothing further to announce today, but Office will continue to evolve and integrate productivity experiences in new ways and on new devices.")

"While OneNote is a good start, I want to see Microsoft go further," said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder. "I think Microsoft *should* create an iPad version of OneNote. Actually, let me be really specific: Microsoft is a software company. The company should offer software products across platforms to maximize its addressable market. The entire Microsoft Office suit should be made available on the iPad. Otherwise, Numbers, Pages, etc. for iPad will only continue to grow.

"Offering OneNote on iOS makes a lot of sense, particularly given that consumers will otherwise turn to iOS apps like Evernote or MobileNoter (or one of a long tail of other apps that potentially compete in this product space)," Gownder added. "OneNote makes sense, too, because it complements the on-the-go nature of mobile devices, and can integrate with GPS, photo tagging, etc., making for a potentially rich note-taking experience."

As an iPad user, I'd be keen on seeing Microsoft bring Word, Excel and PowerPoint to the iPad. But not everyone feels the same. There are some Softies and developers who believe Microsoft should use Office and other Microsoft applications as carrots to entice users to stay with Microsoft products. There are others who believe Microsoft needs to be realistic and put its apps wherever the users are.

Which side of the fence are you on? Any interest from readers out there in OneNote for iPhone?

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

    If the Windows team needs Office exclusivity to compete then Microsoft is in trouble. Love them or hate them, the iPhone and the iPad are everywhere. People on those devices WILL find alternatives to Office if Microsoft doesn't build it for them.

    Building a touch friendly version of Office for the iPad has to be a scary proposition for Microsoft. Putting Office on iOS might give enterprises a real reason to look at iPads. I think this is unlikely, but a possibility.

    If they would release the touch-friendly version of Office on tablet PCs first, Microsoft might actually create a compelling reason to buy one.

    Oh and for the people that love the stylus and "palm rejection" that's great. I have tried to like it on several occasions and I just can't.
    Rich Miles
    • You are highlighting MS's biggest problem

      @azzlsoft <br><br>It seems no matter which option they choose, they could end up screwing themselves. That is what happens when you are a dominant player and your market hits an inflection point.<br><br>You may be damned if you do and damned if you don't.
    • Wow...

      <b>"If the Windows team needs Office exclusivity to compete then Microsoft is in trouble. "</b>

      @azzlsoft :you've basically nailed the center argument which keeps Microsoft, at this moment, stuck on neutral.

      On one side, they have the Windows crowd which used to be the cash cow. They were a hit, until they messed up with Vista. After much scolding, they released Windows 7, to much--internal, I might add--praise.

      On the other side, there's the Office team, which seemed to have received a scolding of sorts when they released Office 2007, and they too corrected in Office 2010, with a much more solid product.

      Today, both teams attempt to move forward.

      The problem's Windows 8 is fraught with problems. It must be compatible with Vista/7. It should be touch friendly. It should run on Tablet. It should run on ARM. It should have an App Store. And it should keep XP compatibility (somehow). Else it could become Windows CE 2 (good OO work, incompatible with everything else) or worse yet Windows Vista 2 (innovative UI, incompatible with everything else).

      Office, on the other hand, has done its homework. Office 2010 has big icons, ready for touch. XML file formats ready for mobile, and integration with Facebook and Hotmail. What's lacking? A proper OS to exploit all of these. If they wait for Windows 8, they're screwed. If they switch to Vista/7, they will only target 20 or so percent of the crowd (same mistake of IE9). If they target iPad... well... they will p***s the windows crowd.

      Touch dilemma, ain't it.
      • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

        @cosuna : "they have the Windows crowd which used to be the cash cow" - Still is when you sell 240+ million copies of Windows 7. They say even Office 2010 has been doing quite well.
        Gis Bun
  • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

    They should 100% have them on IOS, but they should charge, they should be free on Windows Phone devices, further to that, where are the updated Bing/Maps apps for WP7, where also is the Messenger app? If MS cant release updates quickly it should move to de-couple the maps/bing/messenger from the OS. They should also get cracking making some apps for Android and every other platform thats selling, MS seem $$$ shy these days?!
    • Hardly money shy at all

      @GP101 <br>just typical business. Just as Apple doesn't make an iTunes for Linux: Why do that when Apple would rather have them buy a Mac?
      John Zern
      • Apple doesn't make iTunes for Linux because Linux

        has such a ridiculously small market share in the consumer space, loud frothing at the mouth rants by linux users notwithstanding. If it was worth their effort, they would put iTunes on Linux. Just like they put it on Windows.
      • frgough, that's pretty much what I was saying

        but for MS to create Android apps? I think MS and Apple are more freindly then Google is with either one of them, so I can see MS making One Note, or Apps in general for the iOS as opposed to Android OS.
        John Zern
  • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

    The ipod touch is looking good about now, if this will run there too!
    • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

      @prpetitt@... How can you take fast notes on such a small screen?
      • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

        @levinson I used an iPod Touch since 2008 as a way to pop on AIM and Yahoo, and now Facebook, to talk to friends while playing various games on either the computer or the Wii. The touch-screen keyboard is easy enough to learn.
  • I don't believe the current gen 1 iPad hardware could

    support a useful implementation of the MS Office Suite of applications. The best the current iPad hardware can do is view Office based files and allow slight editing of them. Perhaps the second gen iPad hardware will allow more robust support for Office Apps or files. (I can just imagine the comments that the above will generate! Grin.)

    At any rate, thanks for the heads-up on "OneNote". I will install it on my iPad.

    Do you know if it will support character recognition from a stylus input?
    • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?


      Do you really think that the features included with Quick Office and DocsToGo have anything to do with what the 1st-Gen iPad can handle? Please. There are much more robust apps on the current iPad than either of these Office-wannabes. The lack of features in both of these offerings is universal across every platform they support, not just the iPad.

      Needless to say, a real Office app from Microsoft would dominate the business productivity app section making DocsToGo and QuickOffice out to be the overpriced knockoffs they really are.
      • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?


        I have tried to import large Excel spreadsheets into "Numbers" from Apple. (It does import but it takes quite a bit of time.) I found the hardware was not up to robust Office files. (Even large text files with photos in Microsoft Word let alone large Excel files)

        However, PowerPoint files worked just fine in Apple's Keynote. (All these comments relate to iPad versions of these apps, of course.)

        No..I really think the next generation of hardware could make the Office Suite of Apps useful. If MS decides to support iOS devices with Microsoft Office. That proposition is highly suspect at this time.

        And your right. I use MS Office on my iMac and I would use MS Office on my iPad if they were offered because these apps are the best at what they do.
    • I'd put big money on the supposition that the Mac BU

      @kenosha7777 has had a working version of Office for the iPad (if not all iOS) for years now. The only reason we haven't seen it the same one that we're going to see Win 8 (or whatever it's called) on ARM for tablets instead of WP7. Microsoft just can't think that far outside the box. To Ballmer it's [b]all about[/b] preserving the Windows hedgemony, no matter what the cost.
      • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

        I agree that, for the most part, the decision to restrict a hypothetical version of Office for the iPad would be a political one. However, I still am of the opinion, based on importing robust Office files into my high end iPad model that the iPad's first gen hardware capabilities are not sufficient to run MS Office apps well. (They can run .. but not well .. and that's important to keep in mind.)

        Having seen how MS Office runs on the new MacBook Air 11" model (both natively in MS Office 11 for the Mac and under virtualization in a native Windows environment), I would have to believe that if a similar performance experience could not be achieved under iOS, than the Mac BU would recommend that their iOS Office app be withheld from commercial release.
    • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?

      @kenosha7777 If a PIII/500 running XP with 384 MiB of RAM can run Word and Excel 2007 at the same time and be halfway productive, then I'm sure that an iPad with a keyboard could be as well, especially when you consider that the GUI elements in an iPad are GPU-accelerated and multi-tasking in iOS 4.x suspends one app while you work with another.
  • Not showing up in Apple's application storefront

    Trying to find this on my iPhone. I even followed your link from my iPhone but it says [i]Your request could not be completed.[/i], a message I've gotten in the past trying to access an app that isn't released for Canada (gotta love fragmentation!!!!). Do you know if this is limited to the US only?
    • RE: Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?


      You could always become one of us "Yanks". (BTW, this app is being downloaded on my iPad as I type this. I don't see any fragmentation. GRIN.)
      • Haha, I could!

        I've never met a Yank I didn't like but I sure do see a lot of them on TV!

        Now remember to say "Thank you MS!" while you are using the #1 note taking application in the world. OneNote is a perfect example of true innovation. Apple could learn a lot from MS. :)