Golden OneNote

Congratulations to Chris and his team — purple hair & all — as OneNote goes “Gold” (along with the rest of Office 2007).

With 2007, OneNote has grown up to be much more than that description. OneNote 2007 is now a lightweight collaboration tool for small groups and teams. Shared notebooks, wiki-like functionality, and the ability to work on shared items online and offline and have even complex changes sync and merge is unparalleled in the software world.

Used solo or in a team, OneNote’s a powerful tool, highly recommended for Windows users.

Hiding OneNote Under a Bushel

Like Mike McBride, I really like Microsoft OneNote. I’ve been a long-time OneNote user (since it’s first public beta) and have been part of the non-public beta for the upcoming version. Back in November I even told Chris Pratley that it was the one application keeping me from making the switch to OS X.

Obviously, I’m making the switch anyway. So why the change of heart? In part, Microsoft’s decision not to include OneNote in the editions of Office 2007 that will actually be used in my current (and, I’d suppose, many other) companies.

OneNote’s a great application for gathering information, organizing it and easily finding it later. That’s a huge part of my day, and maybe yours too. But what good is that information if you can’t share it easily? By share I mean more than just distribute. OneNote’s pretty much an island, gathering the flotsam and jetsam of your life. While I enjoyed being on that island, organizing all my “stuff,” real life means that I have to pass that “stuff” around and get feedback, addititional information, and updates.

OneNote has some wonderful ways to share information. If you keep it’s data on in shared folder or use a SharePoint site, multiple people can collaborate, even editing while offline and having their edits merged when they come back to the network. If two OneNote users are on the same network, they can even collaborate on a single document at the same time, with both computers showing each other’s edits in real-time. I’ve used both of these with my (former) Program Manager, and they work great.

The limitation is, of course, that all parties involved have to actually have and use OneNote.

By hiding this great application away in the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 box, Microsoft is practically guaranteeing that my co-workers will know about and use it as much as they have for the past year – meaning not at all. Unless companies pony up for the über version – the new Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 – it’ll remain just a nice little “for students” application, unknown in the “real” world. And that’s downright unfortunate.

Who’s Heard of OneNote?

Mike: “OneNote is one of the best things Microsoft has done lately. … But there are still lots of people who’ve never heard of it.” Right. I was on a meeting yesterday, taking notes in OneNote and everyone could see via NetMeeting. The folks I was meeting with aren’t stupid, or out-of-touch, but they’d never heard of OneNote at all. These are folks who, just out of habit, put everything into a PowerPoint, Word or Excel file (and they reach for PowerPoint first). * sigh * I ended up using SaveAs to send them each a Word doc.

OneNote Demo Video

I’ve used Microsoft OneNote off and on since its public beta, but never have gotten into the habit of making it the “one place for all my notes” that it wants to be. Mostly that’s because my co-workers don’t use it and so sharing information with them wouldn’t be as seamless as it could.

This 45-minute video shows a good bit of OneNote’s capabilities, and perhaps I can use it to get the folks around me to start using it too. [pointer to video via Mike McBride]