OneNote is a Revolutionary Product (Sadly Unrecognized by Microsoft)

Students were the initial focus for Microsoft's revolutionary OneNote product when it was first launched in 2003. The education market remains the primary focus for the product in 2013. That is a shame because OneNote is a more useful and powerful tool than Word and PowerPoint combined and has application far beyond the classroom.

User Motivations

Eliminating paper notes was my original motivation for trying OneNote. Tangential ideas frequently occur to me during my workday. Not wanting to lose focus on a task-at-hand, I jot down ideas for later review. Capturing these thoughts with OneNote means that this information will appear on my main workstation computer, is backed up on my network storage server and can be retrieved on my smartphone. This proved to be a better approach than a paper-based planner, post-it notes or sending myself an email.

Capturing my thoughts in a reliable and accessible tool gives me a feeling of comfort that I wont forget my thoughts and that I can return to them at a more convenient time. This feeling of comfort allows me to continue my focus on the task-at-hand, making my work more efficient. This feeling of comfort is my underlying motivation in using this tool. It is a powerful motivation: but for OneNote, I would not be using Microsoft's Windows operating system at all.

Microsoft's OneNote product is not just a student's note taking tool.  It is a way a knowledge-worker organizes, manages, shares and retrieves his thoughts.

How I Would Improve OneNote

The importance of OneNote to my work in software development, product management and startup operations highlights the product's deficiencies. The tool allows me to video tape a customer interview, link my handwritten notes to the audio and search that audio for words, but can't effectively link a meeting with Outlook and has print driver bugs! Here is my ongoing list of functional improvements

Publish Notes to the Web as HTML, not MHTML

OneNote allows notes to be exported to the web, but only using the proprietary MHTML format that only Internet Explorer can view correctly. Other browsers require a plugin or are incompatible. This limitation makes sharing difficult, as the next-useful alternative is to email a PDF file. OneNote should be able to export valid HTML to render handwriting, text, images, video and audio.

OneNote Cache Storage on Mobile Devices

Synchronization speed between OneNote and Microsoft's SkyDrive is slow on Android devices. I believe this is caused by limited storage space on the device, so OneNote must download more frequently using the wireless network. All of my Android devices allow an external SD card, but OneNote does not use this larger storage device. The desktop version of OneNote blocks this, requiring a workaround to move the cache.

Synchronize Mobile Devices using WebDav

Instead of using Microsoft's SkyDrive to synchronize mobile devices, I would prefer to use my own network device and WebDav. OneNote 2010 (I have not tested 2013) requires SSL encryption that I have not been able to set up correctly.


* changes

* missing notes

* uses organization as primary search;

* technical problems: reorganinzing secitons created duplicates. how to merge dupclates?

* better web page printouts




Google Keep


July 19th, 2013 Posted by Jon Jaroker Filed in: Products

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