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10 Years of Microsoft OneNote: "One place for all of your notes."

We are approaching the 10th birthday of Microsoft’s information gathering application, OneNote. The first edition of OneNote to be released was OneNote 2003 in November of the same year. If you are like me, you may not have been introduced to Microsoft’s info application until only a few years ago when the company decided to include it in all versions of Office 2010.

Today, after almost 10 years of OneNote’s existence, the app is available on a variety of platforms including Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Symbian (surprise!). In addition, as part of Microsoft’s Office Web App suite, OneNote is available online and can be accessed from a variety of modern web browsers (although, it does work best in IE).

OneNote allows users to collection text input, tables, pictures, hand sketches, and more into a digital notebook collection. Notebooks are further divided into sections, and each section can have an unlimited number of pages to them.

There is also a free version of Microsoft OneNote available, OneNote MX, which can be downloaded from the Windows Store and used on Windows 8/RT machines. It takes the standard desktop application and optimizes it for use on tablets and other touch screen devices. In terms of Windows 8/RT, OneNote is the only Microsoft Office application to have its own optimized Windows 8 application.

For heavy Microsoft users, OneNote works flawlessly between various devices thanks to the integration of SkyDrive. Users can create a notebook on their PC and easily access and edit it from their Windows Phone thanks to the built in Microsoft Office suite.

Other popular contenders exist alongside OneNote including Evernote; a popular suite of software that can also store text and media in a notebook like form. Unlike Microsoft’s OneNote – Evernote can be obtained for no cost and then upgraded to a Premium account later for more features.

You can download OneNote MX for free on your Windows 8/RT device by clicking here (opens in new tab).

Are you onboard the OneNote train or do you prefer the Evernote Express?

54 Comments
  • One note
  • OneNote for me.
  • Including this one
  • OneNote is the single most important tool I use as a student. for years, I have been taking notes using a wacom tablet via USB to my laptop in OneNote and all of my notes are easily organized and I can go back and review them in seconds. This application alone allowed me to go paperless and thus become infinitely more organized. This is why i'm so excited for the surface pro 2 i'm about to grab so I can ditch the laptop and tablet setup for a much more portable setup.
  • Yea, I work at a stable and OneNote saves me again and again.. I can open it up real quick and add little notes about lesson plans, horse info, things that need to be done, and so much more..
    Seriously without OneNote I wouldn't be able to nearly run my own ranch at the age of 18.
  • I totally agree. It is so handy being to access notes on your phone too. THis one time I overslept my nap before class and didn't have time to study for a quiz, but I could glance at my notes on my way. OneNote also makes me wish I had a touchscreen laptop or a tablet.
  • When I first used it on my Toshiba M200, its purpose confused me. When 2007 came out and it was able to sync across devices, I found I was using it for much more than I ever expected. It for me is an invaluable program.
  • I've never been into the whole OneNote thing but I have it across everything, so maybe I can figure out how to put it to good use.
  • Its a great system for a checklist or grocery list, etc. Amazing on any WP.
  • There is simply no comparison between OneNote and Evernote.  I struggled along with Evernote for years because experiments with early versions of OneNote didn't encourage me, but after trying OneNote 2010 I had no hesitation in jumping ship.  OneNote is vastly superior.
  • THis has been out for 10 years? 
  • I was wondering the same . . . lol.
  • I only started using it on my Surface Pro with the pen for taking notes. I don't even have it installed on my desktop PC as I have no need for it outside of note-taking in meeting and such.
     
  • This is needed to make OneNote perfect: a Windows Phone phablet with stylus and OneNote with inking and drawing for it. Get to work, Microsoft!
  • +920
  • Depends on the size. I used a Pocket PC before I got my first tablet in 2005, and a major restriction of the Pocket PC was that you could only write 1 or 2, sometimes 3 words before you had to start a new line. A phablet would have to be fairly large to not run into the same problem.
  • OneNote changed my life.
     
    I'd seen it in Office before but it didn't click until I got Windows Phone and suddenly I understood how useful it could be. A few months later got my first tablet (ASUS EeeSlate, may it rest in peace) and then OneNote and a pen turned me paperless. Other than the occasional post-it anyway.
     
    It's wonderful to still have all my notes but without them taking up any physical space and being able to access them no matter where I am or what I'm using. They really were blazing the trail before anything else at Microsoft (or at most places, really).
     
    The dev team are like machines though, it's available for everything and is constantly updated. It's very impressive stuff.  
  • I use a pen and paper lol. And for keeping track of homework my school planner
  • ^ still best way to take notes
  • I use both Evernote and OneNote... They have different use cases.
  • This, so much this. OneNote is a note taking app (meetings, classes, notes for home). Evernote is a reminder app you can put notes in.
  • OneNote is one of those things which almost makes me wish I was a student again.
  • Happy birthday, OneNote, I really keep all my life within it. One problem, MX and WP versions can't open password protected sections, but there is SkyWallet for that
  • OneNote. Its great, but still feels very beta to me. No real good way to share cross platform without the app itself, the way it prints because of endless pages makes it akward. Just things like that, and not forget Onenote MX still hasn't been updated to support more snapping sizes which I was hoping to take advantage of for my upcoming medicine rotations. Still a great piece of software that I can't imagine any tablet user not using. Probably the model app for ink support. Microsoft should make their tablets around this, but then again wed probably have the Courier by now.
  • "OneNote works the best on Internet Explorer" - now that's the first! How often do you see one Microsoft product working the best on another Microsoft product and not an Apple or Google product? *cough*Skype*cough
  • Too bad Microsoft broke the Win+S shortcut in new 8.1 update.
  • What was the function of that shortcut beforehand?
  • Nothing at the OS level, I tried. Not sure what Izzy's referring to, as the OneNote shortcut using 's' is Win + Shift + S (Screen Clipping).
  • OneNote definitely!
  • OneNote helped me organized all my important notes. Thank You!
  • I use both, bur can't ever rid myself of the feeling that I could do more with OneNote if I would take the time.
  • This
  • I've been using one note since the office 2003 beta in 2002. I use it every day, and my work notebooks currently go back to 2008. I couldn't do my job with out it at this point.
  • Happy birthday!
  • When I first saw OneNote in Office 2010, I didn't know what it was, so I just ignored it entirely .Then, I noticed it installed on my Lumia 1020 when I got it. few months ago. I tried it, fell in love, and now use it all the time on both my Lumia 1020 and SUrface Pro 2. It's an awesome and powerful tool (especially love the Windows 8/RT version, it's fantastic, that little circle tool is a dream!)
     
    If they do as good a job as they did with OneNote when they convert the rest of the Office Suite to work on the Metro UI, it will be completely unmatched. Office 2013 is already great, but a Metro version will be even better. Again, if OneNote offers any sort of scaling, it will be fantastic.
     
    I love OneNote, it's my one place to store all my notes (see what I did there? heh heh heh), I tried Evernote once but quickly got confussed. OneNote all the way!
  • For this anniversary they should allow Windows Phone users to create notebooks and sections in the app. Because come the hell on. Also the rich text editor on this site doesn't work in Internet Explorer. The irony.
  • It works fine in IE. It just doesn't trigger the onscreen keyboard, but to be fair most touch devices have issues with WYSIWYG editors. Just switch to 'plain text' mode and you're fine, or you can use a physical keyboard.
  • I use OneNote and i love it.  I have the app at work and use the free web version through Skydrive at home. Obviously \ove having it on my Lumia 920 too. 
    Just recently i downloaded it on my sister's Iphone and we created a shared notebook for groceries which is amazing.
    I just love when technology works and makes organizing my life easier.
  • 10 years? o_o
    I thought it was 2 years...
  • I started using OneNote about 2 years ago and have never looked back. The ability to syhc across my work computer and personal computer and my Lumia 920 is perfect. Whenever I show it to people they are amazed. My colleagues are starting to catch on in my company and use it to track meetings notes and projects! 
    If you have a busy life, I also highly recommend the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. which shows you a great way to organzie your notebook or OneNote.
    Best piece of software I ever bought.
  • I just started using OneNote this year (for grad school purposes) and I am really liking it.  One weird thing started happening since the 8.1 update, when I open OneNote various tabs or pages are highlighted and the pages have a green background. I did not change any settings to my knowledge... 
  • Farskija -- the green means that the page has been edited by someone else (or you, on another device) since you last visited the page. In the right margin, you should see the initials of the person who made the edit. Once you navigate away from the page and return, the green will be gone.
    You may also notice, in the OneNote tree, that some of the section names are in bold. This means that a page or pages in that section have changes or new content (or content created on another machine) since you last viewed that section. Again, after opening and noting the changes, the bold will go away.
  • Thanks Feralboy,  I wonder if this was happening because of wifi connectivitiy issues, because no one else (that I know of) has ever accessed my notebook.  The bold highlighting was also not disappearing unless I marked it as read.  It could also have something to do with the fact that I have an SD card plugged into my Surface for backups...who knows.  It still works and I love the program!
  • OneNote is so good, even die-hard Linux fans give it praise.
  • It's freeeeeee, just for meeeee :D
    And of course the rest of you folks :P
  • One note is great while you travel, I keep reservations, maps , address and other stuff you will need in a trip. Organize everything in your PC, sync and make offline in your Nokia...
    That's big use for me
  • I've been using OneNote since the Beta and I don't think a day has gone by when I didn't access one of my notebooks. To say it's indispensible is an understatement. OneNote rules. Now, I use it with and without a pen, so I've found that each has it's charms. One of the neat tricks when using a keyboard is "napkin math". Type in a mathematical equation and when you type the equals sign, OneNote solves it for you and types in the answer automagically!
    The thing about OneNote (on the PC) is that after 10 years it's now so mature that virtually everything I want to do it does! Yeah, improvements are always welcome, but right now, it's amazing. Love me some Onenote.
    Got a shared notebook for my team at work and we use it as a dept wiki. It's so easy to add new content that it often gets done. Can't imagine my worklife withoiut it either.
    Happy birthday OneNote.
  • Ooh, same here. I've been using it since 2007 and with a scan snap in completely paperless at home. Tried Evernote for a year or two, OneNote is light years ahead. Convinced a number of people at work to try it and converted them too. OneNote is the most awesome piece of software I've ever used, and I've been using for 30+ years.
  • How do I make a icon link in my ScanSnap software to scan directly to One Note?
  • I feel it necessary to mention here the promo the Microsoft Store is doing. Go in and ask to have them demo One Note for you and you will receive a $25 gift card to use on any purchase over $75. I got a year of Xbox Music with it and I actually learned some stuff I did not know. :) Good thru the end of the year I was told.
  • love it also. it took me awhile to figure it out in fact still learning it. but find myself using it more and more.
    like the fact it syncs perfect between 920 and my windows 8 computer and don't flame me my galaxy 10.1 tablet.
    i know i'm getting a windows 8 tablet real soon...................
  • I used to be a big Evernote fan. Still have a bunch of notes there. From my iPhone days to my Android days. Their apps wasn't always the more "stable" but it got the job done with a couple frustrations. Moved on to Windows Phone and Evernote started to frustrate me, so I gave OneNote a chance. My god isn't just so stable and fast! Finally got the job done without wanting to break my phone! I still have to transition my old notes from Ever to One but it's just that Evernote has a special place in my heart after all these years..
  • This is a great app, even better than Evernote and I love Evernote, but I really wish they would add more functions to the WP8 app.
  • I &#$#iug love OneNote.  My whole life is on there.  I just wish I started using it sooner.  I started about 3 years ago.  I didn't know it existed until then.   I recommend to everyone to use it and to put everything on it, every thought you have, organize every project you have, run your business from it, put your everyday notes and to do lists in it, live on it.
    I cannot think of anything i would change about it. The iphone app cant open password protected sections of OneNote.  That is about it.  I would not change a single thing.
    I am hard for OneNote.