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Microsoft's Journal app has a new name and a fresh look for Windows 11

Microsoft Journal
Microsoft Journal (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Journal, a Microsoft Garage project, is now called Microsoft Journal.
  • Microsoft Journal has graduated from the Microsoft Garage and is now a supported Microsoft application.
  • The app focuses on delivering a freeform experience for notetaking and annotation.

The Journal app has left the Microsoft Garage and is officially a supported Microsoft app. Along with its status change, the app has a new name and a refreshed look. Now known as Microsoft Journal, the notetaking application has a clear roadmap and will continue to be developed. Microsoft's Renee Malone announced the news (opens in new tab).

Microsoft Journal has a page-based canvas for notetaking. It uses artificial intelligence to identify gestures and other inputs, such as underlining content to turn text into a heading. Notably, the AI runs on-device rather than having to go through the cloud.

In addition to its new name, Microsoft Journal has a revamped look that aligns with Windows 11. The new version of the app will roll out gradually between April 5 and April 8, 2022.

The Microsoft Garage allows developers to work out concepts for applications. Projects can be refined and workshopped based on user feedback, often providing insight about users. Some projects are retired. Others, such as Journal, graduate into full-fledged Microsoft apps.

Malone notes some of the lessons learned during the incubation period of Journal in the Microsoft Garage. The app allows users to swap between inking and selecting content, but the developers of Journal weren't sure which form of interaction people would prefer to switch between modes. The team found that using a tap, lasso, smart ink cue, and barrel button on a pen all proved popular. This insight helped shape Microsoft Journal.

It was also discovered that many people liked using the app to mark documents. Over half of all pages created in Journal were imported from PDFs.

Microsoft Journal is available for free through the Microsoft Store and works on both Windows 11 and Windows 10.

(opens in new tab)

Microsoft Journal (opens in new tab)

Microsoft Journal is a notetaking application that focuses on the inking experience. It uses artificial intelligence and connects to Microsoft 365.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

9 Comments
  • Could it be modded for SD2? - Seems like a good fit :)
  • I was thinking the same. It would be a great app for SD2. It would really cool to see Kindle like page turn animations.
  • they named it the same as the old journal,
    which i still use. later
    -1
  • On a slight tangent, have they finally announced an expected rollout of haptic feedback in OneNote? I liked the original Journal from something like 2005, and I might like this one, but I want my notes to survive long-term, so I stick with OneNote. Microsoft has created and then again sunset too many apps in my experience that I'm going to put my notes into something that hasn't got much history yet. However, it would sure be nice if they could put development resources behind putting haptic feedback into what must be one of the first apps people would expect it in.
  • If you mean the haptic feedback of Surface slim pen 2, I believe it has been there in OneNote since a few months ago.
  • Should have been more precise. The Windows app does have it. I'm asking about the desktop app.
  • Since the two versions of OneNote are going to be combined, and it's the "desktop" version that will be what we use going forward (according to a recent MS announcement), I think that means any features they intend on having in the future, unified OneNote should eventually come to the desktop version one way or another. I hope it works out for you sooner rather than later!
  • I just never got into the Journal style of note taking. Ultimately I'm an infinite canvas OneNote user. But to each their own, and it's great to see a new app out of beta. Choice is good.
  • Really like the idea and concept. But I got stuck right at the beginning: Did I see that right, the app can only be used with a pen? I tried to use it just with my finger - which didn't work, kinda as expected. And I didn't see an option to use it with the virtual keyboard. Am I missing something?