Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

Summary: A recent incident proved to me how important OneNote and ink handling will be to Windows 8 tablets.

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The Windows 8 team at Microsoft must be the busiest team in tech, with so much to do to get the OS out the door and on the slate. The company is counting on the "new" genre of tablets running Windows 8, on both Intel and ARM hardware, to bring Windows into the mobile age. While early peeks of the Metro interface with Windows 8 look promising, the devil is in the execution. I strongly urge the folks at Redmond to remember the big advantage over the competition in the tablet space, and work the pen and OneNote into the forefront of Windows 8 tablet design.

This insight came to me out of the blue when I recently received a phone call asking for my help. A former client of mine needed information about a project I handled for his company years ago, and while he figured I had no memory of the work after all this time he had to ask. Fortunately for him Microsoft and OneNote came to the rescue.

To set the stage, before changing careers to cover mobile tech full-time I was a consulting geophysicist. I managed complex 3D imaging projects for oil companies to produce accurate pictures of the earth's subsurface. These projects would often last for months, and I usually had as many as ten of them going on concurrently.

My average day in the consulting life saw me flitting from meeting to meeting, as many as four or five a day. I used a Tablet PC extensively, taking ink notes with the pen at each meeting to help me stay on top of each project. I used OneNote for this note-taking, as all of my digital ink was searchable as soon as I wrote it down. This search capability is extremely powerful, and came into play during this client request years after the fact.

After the call from my former client I pulled out my Tablet PC that hasn't been used much lately, and fired up OneNote. I have probably 50,000+ pages of handwritten notes taken over the years, chronicling every project I worked for clients. I did a search in OneNote for the project codename, and in just a few minutes had a hit that took me to the note with the exact answer to my client's question.

My client was stunned that I had this information, and that I could lay my hands on it even though it was written during a meeting almost five years ago. The note page detailed the date and location of the meeting, proving the accuracy of the information.

While this is a unique situation that doesn't happen very often, it drove home to me what Microsoft needs to do with Windows 8 on tablets. OneNote and digital ink handling are a tremendous advantage that Microsoft has over the competition, and it would be a shame to fail to capitalize on it. It may not be required by every future Windows 8 customer, but to the enterprise this could be huge.

I hope that Microsoft doesn't forsake its legacy of the Tablet PC and includes pen/ink handling in the core of Windows 8. I hear from readers regularly wanting a good method of taking ink notes on iOS and Android tablets, and nothing comes close to the existing technology in Windows. Ink needs to be front and center in the Windows 8 tablet products.

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Topics: Hardware, CXO, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Mobility, Microsoft, Laptops, Collaboration, Windows

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  • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

    I've been saying this ever since I used my Samsung Series 7 Slate and put Windows 8 on it!
    Zedox
    • Tablets to remain a niche market

      Tablets' performance PER cost does not add up here, not during this economy when money is tight. MSFT is making a blunder here giving tablets too much attention in Win8. A variation of WinPhone7 OS for tablets should be good enough. It's not worth all the hassle to add an incompatible ARM coupling to Win8.
      LBiege
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

      Gee, by this logic all of my work on floppies and zip drives means the winslab should have both built in to succeed.
      dheady@...
  • Why? OneNote is not that good

    Get a Livescribe pen and use it with One Note, EverNote, Google Docs, or other handwriting recognition software. The Livescribe software will index and let you search if your chicken scratch can be deciphered. (Mine is bad and it gets it right most of the time). And you can carry just a pad or notebook rather than a whole laptop. Pen's batteries last about a day (8 hours) while recording audio or longer if you're not.<br>

    Best thing is you'd also have an audio record of the meeting if you needed it.<br>No need to lock into Microsoft for anything. Livescribe is a superior solution to OneNote. And it's cross platform - Mac and PC. So you really are not locked into Microsoft. And that's a great thing.
    itguy10
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

      @itguy10
      Wow. Do your research. OneNote is available beyond Windows. Tablet PC pens don't need any batteries, period. So compare your glorious 8 hours to years. Search is superb, as James pointed out. OneNote can do audio and video. Tablet PCs are and will be small enough to carry without a problem. In other words, you didn't prove that OneNote is "not that good" - didn't even begin to prove it - and neither gave much evidence that your solution can even touch it.
      WebSiteManager
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @WebSiteManager

        "Do your research. OneNote is available beyond Windows."

        Yeah, but ONLY on iOS. So you can get it for Windows devices, iPhone and iPad. Period. So, it IS "available beyond Windows", but just barely. And from what I've seen, no one is saying anything about Evernote, which truly is "available beyond Windows".
        benched42
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @benched42
        Yeah, Windows, iPhone, iPad, [i]and via any web browser using Office Web Apps[/i]. That's a pretty good reach, in my book. I hear they have those web browser things for all sorts of operating systems now.
        WebSiteManager
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @WebSiteManager
        Where's One Note for Mac? Oops, not there.
        Where's One Note for Android? Oops, not there.

        And really why carry a tablet PC with pathetic battery life (well less than 8 hours) when I can carry a simple pad and pen?

        And with that I get a hardcopy (my notes), audio (if I want it), and a searchable index I can post on Google Docs, Evernote, export to PDF, or extract the audio.

        Again, why do I need OneNote other than to be married to MS?
        itguy10
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @itguy10
        So, your solution is Android + Paper. Granted, you probably don't need OneNote.
        WebSiteManager
    • LOL! More lies from the frightened

      @itguy10
      Now, how did we know that you would have something negative to say about this?

      A lucky guess, or just the patterns of a troll...? ;)
      William Farrel
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @William Farrel Well remember the "it" in itguy does not stand for Info-Tech.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @William Farrel

        Why? Because I have a better solution that is not tied to one vendor who does not like to support anything but their own stuff?
        itguy10
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @itguy10

        I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt...then you stated that Microsoft doesn't support anyone but themselves.

        Remember, it's ok to get frustrated and jump up and shout...but it makes you look foolish when you're so frustrated that you've been proven wrong, that you just to say something...that proved to be one of the dumbest statements i've ever read on a tech blog?

        Name 1 company that Microsoft doesn't support. Think hardware...they build their OS and work with every hardware company to ensure their products work properly...because if they don't people blame Microsoft. How about software...same answer. It is in Microsoft's best interest to work with EVERY company to ensure the customer has a good PC experience. Think enterprise customer...MS HAS to work with them for repeat business. How about small business...same. Direct end-users? Same! Yes, there are issues and exceptions in business...people that had a poor experience...businesses that may have gotten forgotten...I've seen it. But it is in Microsoft's best interest to work with everyone. How about big companies like Apple and Google. Well last i recalled, MS bailed Apple out and Google works fine on Windows... Even your little pen company...Windows supports them too.
        stevesu*
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

      @itguy10 I use OneNote and Evernote. Evernote is cute and nice, but it cannot touch OneNote. And Google Docs is a joke when you look at the features of OneNote. I switched so I could have it on my Mac and PC's now that they are supporting Apple, I'm probably going to move back. OneNote is awesome, and now that it works with Apple it's perfect (sorry not enough for Linux yet). I'm probably going to switch back. One note works on the Web, PC and iPad/iPhone and I think ( I could be dreaming) the Mac. That's great.
      ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

        @ItsTheBottomLine

        How is Evernote worse than OneNote?
        itguy10
      • How is evernote worse? easy

        @itguy10
        Well we tried using evernote, and they kept crashing all the machines that we installed it on. We had the developers in and they counldn't figure it out or get it to work, even after 2 whole months. :D
        William Farrel
    • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

      @itguy10 Wow you never used OneNote. You can do So much more with OneNote then you can with a Live Scribe pen. How about highlighting? How do you do that? What if I want to move some notes down and then insert notes in that spot? - cannot do that with live scribe. What if I want to add a Table? Cannot do that with live scribe. Live Scribe is for pure NOTES only - no type of organization at all. You can do so MUCH more including video, highlight, tables, insert pictures and mark them up, etc... try doing any of that with livescribe.

      Ohhh and did you notice Microsoft now released OneNote on Android. So your argument is moot.
      Djblois
    • itguy10--shill for Livescribe

      Face it itguy10, your post just screams out that you're simply a shill for Livescribe. Until Livescribe fully integrates into Onenote, it will never come close to being as useful as OneNote. Don't come back with some line that it does everything that OneNote does or that it's integrated.

      LiveScribe would have a truly fantastic product, and I would buy it in a heartbeat if it were fully integrated into OneNote. Until then, I'll completely pass.
      LoveOnenote
    • Livescribe and Onenote

      I felt the need to register, JUST TO REPLY TO THIS. I use a livescribe pen and have for several years. I also use Onenote and have for over six years. I LOVE ONENOTE. I would BUY a ONENOTE slate that only has Onenote on it. That's how much I LOVE Onenote. My love of the livescribe pen has, however, gone downhill. You see, I have a dozen notebooks and write different things in all of them, mostly scripts and some drawing in the blank ones. ALL those notebooks.. ugh... trying to decide which one to grab when I'm going out is a pain, but... if I had a Samsung Ativ (the 'economy' tablet with the wacom digitizer) I can CARRY all of my notes in Onenote at once. Better yet, I don't have to deal with the occasional glitches the pen has in not recording all strokes on some pages, or... random scribbling all over if the laser gets stuck on. Yes, I do have a hard copy, but I can make hard copies of all my work in Onenote as well and save it in a cloud. You can do the same things with that Ative and Onenote as you can with a pen and you only have to carry the little device with you, that weighs less than one notebook... or you can carry around the clunky Livescribe Pulse pen plus a couple of notebooks and only be able to access the notebooks you have. So coming from someone who uses a Livescribe pen, yeah, that technology is quickly becoming outdated and redundant. At this point, even the price factor is soon going to be a non issue.
      Tiffany Ross
  • RE: Windows 8 tablets secret weapon: OneNote and inking

    Windows 8 will be huge. Android is dead on tablets.
    DreyerSmit