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Microsoft Demotes OneNote 2016, Moves Forward with Modern OneNote

Posted April 18, 2018 | Office | Office 365 | OneNote | Windows

Confused why Microsoft is maintaining two different versions of OneNote on Windows? Well, that’s about to end.

“Beginning with the launch of Office 2019 later this year, OneNote for Windows 10 will replace OneNote 2016 as the default OneNote experience for both Office 365 and Office 2019,” a new post by the OneNote teams notes. “We’re no longer adding new features to OneNote 2016.”

While some OneNote power users may decry this change, the reality is that OneNote for Windows 10 has improved in leaps and bounds. And it shares the same modern UX found in OneNote on Mac, Android, and iOS. OneNote 2016, by comparison, uses the old-fashioned, legacy UX found on Microsoft’s traditional Office applications.

That said, old-timers and power users who prefer to keep using OneNote 2016 can, of course, keep doing so for the foreseeable future.

“OneNote 2016 will still be there if you need it,” Microsoft explains. “OneNote 2016 is optionally available for anyone with Office 365 or Office 2019, but it will no longer be installed by default. If you currently use OneNote 2016, you won’t notice any changes when you update to Office 2019. We’ll continue to offer support, bug fixes, and security updates for OneNote 2016 for the duration of the Office 2016 support lifecycle, which runs through October 2020 for mainstream support and October 2025 for extended support.”

But Microsoft is hoping you will switch, of course. And it is addressing complaints that OneNote for Windows 10 doesn’t provide the full OneNote 2016 feature-set. And highlighting a few features that are present in OneNote for Windows 10, but not in OneNote 2016.

For example, OneNote for Windows 10 provides a better inking experience than its desktop-based sibling, with unique features such as ink effects, dramatically improved ink-to-text, Researcher, a notification center, and deep integration with Windows 10.

Additionally, OneNote for Windows 10—like OneNote for Mac, iOS, Android, and web—now features a much-improved sync engine so you can sync more quickly and reliably across your devices.

Finally, OneNote for Windows 10 offers better performance, reliability, and battery life than OneNote 2016, Microsoft says.

And they’re not done improving it, of course. Microsoft says that it will soon add the following features to OneNote for Windows 10, closing the functional gap with Office 2016:

Tags support. The popular tags feature from OneNote 2016 is coming to OneNote for Windows 10 “later this summer,” Microsoft says. You will be able to insert, create, and search for custom tags, and tags you and others create will now roam with you across your devices.

Live preview of Office files. OneNote for Windows 10 will soon support the ability to view and edit Office files in notes. This will let you collaborate on attached documents, and save space in your notebooks by linking to cloud-based documents.

Improved Class Notebooks. Microsoft says that “the full slate” of Class Notebook features that are currently available in OneNote 2016 (via an add-in) will be available in OneNote for Windows 10 “this summer.” And it will just be native to the app and not require users to install a separate add-in.

If you’re not seeing a OneNote 2016 feature you need, Microsoft recommends contacting it via the Windows 10 Feedback Hub. The OneNote team says that it will continue listening to user feedback and incorporating it into its future plans for the apps.


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