Microsoft is revamping the old OneNote for Windows app with many of the features that were exclusive to the soon-to-be-discontinued OneNote for Windows 10. More changes are on the way now, especially for drawing and writing with a stylus.
Microsoft is now rolling out OneNote version 2209 (build 15427.20000) in the beta channel to people enrolled in the Office Insiders testing program. The new version has a revised typing experience, although many of the buttons and controls look the same, Microsoft has rewritten the code “from scratch”. The company says that pen input is now 85% more responsive, which is a significant improvement, especially when latency is the main decrease compared to drawing and writing on real paper.
The writing experience has also been enhanced with “tactile cues,” which generate small vibrations when using a Surface Slim Pen 2 that mimics the feel of a pen on paper. Previously, it was only available in OneNote for Windows 10, and it also works in OneNote on the web. Unfortunately, if you have a different pen or pencil, you’re out of luck.
Although the basic drawing tools haven’t changed, OneNote has made many smaller tweaks. The layout of the ‘Draw’ tab is more like the menu in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. When you select a pen, a popup will appear with color and thickness options, so you don’t have to open a different menu later. The current setting appears next to the cursor, which should reduce accidental markings.
Microsoft also brought the Windows 10 Application Ruler tool to regular OneNote, which is useful for drawing lines at an angle. Math Assistant is also available, which the company says can “understand your handwritten equations and guide you through solutions step by step.” Previously it was only available in OneNote for Windows 10 and the web version.
There are still more improvements on the way. Microsoft said in a blog post: “Over the next few months, you’ll see more updates for both OneNote on Windows and on the web. These will include improvements to ink quality, as well as more features such as pen, ink repeat, and a new pen focus view.” The company did not mention when any of the changes will roll out to everyone with a subscription to Microsoft 365.