OneNote 12 to support PDF creation

Today was a fun day. It was our last day with our MVPs visiting here at Redmond. This was one of the best MVP Summits for me – there was a lot of good positive interchange and solid feedback given by the MVPs on all our products. We demoed Office 12 applications in detail so people got a real sense of the totality of Office12. Lots of smiles!

One big smile was when Steven Sinofsky announced during his wrap-up Q&A this morning that Office 12 apps (OneNote included) will support “Save as PDF” natively. He then went through a demo of most of the apps showing each of them saving to PDF. Publisher (another app whose design team I manage) will even support CMYK output for professional pre-press work. Actually, the Publisher team did most of the work to support PDF over the last year. Then the other teams hooked up to the core PDF generator that they wrote from scratch.

During the announce I was sitting with my Publisher teammates and Steven did a shout-out to us which was nice.

PDF output is another request we get fairly often for OneNote on the newsgroups and other community forums. Our customers want to easily share their notes with other people who may not own OneNote yet. PDF provides a 100% WYSIWYG representation of their notes including ink annotations and the 2-D layout that OneNote has (since it is static like paper, unlike a Word doc or HTML), and Adobe has done a good job of getting a reader for PDF on lots of platforms out there.

Brian Jones has also blogged about this support for PDF, as have others:
Alex Dybenko
This one has a picture of Steven during the Q&A.

Dare Obasanjo

Daily Dose of Excel

The good times keep on rolling…

Comments (14)

  1. Freddie says:

    Have you a link for the fixes and improvements in OneNote 2003 SP2? Thanks

  2. Clay says:

    Hi Chris, thanks for adding this. I would like to point out that there have previously been problems with all tablet-enabled apps that I have seen and .pdf exportation of text that is highlighted. This isn’t a problem in Word, but rather with apps like OneNote and GoBinder, where the highlighter functions more like a pen (and less like changing the background color of the text). I hope you are able to address this, because it causes a lot of problems, currently, when printing to an Adobe .pdf printer or others of the same ilk.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    More support for PDF is good, of course, and I appreciate the focus on interoperability. That said, I’ve never really had too much trouble with PDF output, because there are plenty of Office->PDF addins or utilities. The key problem was PDF->OneNote. (Several professors distribute PDF versions of their lecture notes, and I often receive work-related papers or proposals in PDF format. I suppose that many people think that PDFs are uneditable.) You already blogged about the solution, though:

  4. Marcos Martins says:

    Thank’s. Many similar applications in the world have this feature for free.

  5. Jason Tsang [MVP] says:

    KB887619 Description of OneNote 2003 Service Pack 2

  6. Chris_Pratley says:

    Jeffrey, Marcos: yes, there are quite a few free PDF creators out there. I have one installed at home. Honestly though I have never used it except to see if it works. I just don’t have a need to create PDFs since everyone I work with has OneNote(!)

    We do get tons of requests for PDF support however (~120K requests a month from individuals for Office as a whole to support PDF). Clearly not everyone is covered by the free tools. It is also especially true that our corporate customers want PDF support built-in since they expect "enterprise level" support and maintenance which the free tools don’t provide.

    Clay: we’re aware of that problem. It is actually a fundamental problem with the way printing works in the system since the current print paths (GDI) do not allow for semitransparent overlays on images (semi-transparent ink on an image is different from "highlighter property" on text). These have to be pre-rendered as a single image (which may be how we fix it on the Onenote side if we do).

    In fact exactly this sort of problem is part of why the new XPS print format which you may have heard about is being created for Windows – as a way to do higher quality advanced printing. We all take prinitng for granted but it turns out to be pretty hard, and there actually has to be code to generate the stuff that gets sent to the printer…

  7. prasanth says:

    I posted this as a comment to an earlier blog entry but I wasn’t sure if anyone read it…

    One thing I hope the onenote team has considered is that ability to carry the onenote program on a USB disk. I am never at the same computer all day so when I want add new information to my onenote file it would be convenient to have a portable onenote application on my USB…There are examples of firefox and evernote all working off of the USB. Would love for onenote to do the same.

    It could be useful to students who dont want to carry around a laptop all day or for me in medicine where I’m not allowed to install software onto all the hospital computers that I need to use. thanks

  8. Chris_Pratley says:

    prasanth, I wonder if you can point me to places where I can try these other apps running from a USB stick. As far as I know they are both Win32 apps and they both need to install and register in Windows so this is not actually possible for them. I’d love to see it though so if I am wrong please provide links if you can.

    Windows Vista actually has shown technology to provide a virtual registry for USB-based apps so they don’t need to install, so this capability may come along with the new Windows. Certainly I agree it would be handy.

  9. prasanth says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the reply

    Here is the forum for evernote with instructions on how to install to a usb stick

    and here is portable firefox

    both of these are readily usable from the USB on computers that don’t have them installed..Of note the portable firefox page has links to portable versions of thunderbird, sunbird, and openoffice. I am not sure how they are able to get around the registry but they do.

    thanks prasanth

  10. Chris_Pratley says:

    Thanks prasanth. I’ll look into this.

    FWIW to others: There is now a PDF-specific blog up. Cyndy on my team is blogging about details of our DPF support:

  11. cesare says:


    sorry to jumping in and maybe this is a wrong place but there is any chance fot testing office 12 right now? On connect ms website there isn’t info regarding


    p.s. i’m a ms beta tester anyway :)

  12. Beta 1 of "OneNote 12" (and "Office12") is now available for download for those people who are signed…

  13. nathaniel mondell says:


    I originally had one of the one note 12 pre releases to test out and it expired recently. i purchased the one note 2003 and installed it and found that one note 2003 could not read the files from the one note 12  version. Is there a converter for such an issue?

    My thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    Nathaniel R. Mondell

  14. Chris_Pratley says:

    Nathaniel: no, files are not backward compatible between 2007 and 2003 – too much changed to make that possible. If you had beta 1 of 2007 you also have access to the beta 1 tech refresh (B1TR) released last month which extends the expiry date and lets you keep using 2007.