Out and About with OneNote Mobile

As part of our ongoing mission to capture all the information you need to keep, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to let you capture information while you're on the go away from your desk - even without your laptop. As you may know, the current version of OneNote 2003 can sync with the notes on your Smartphone or PocketPC - ink, text, or voice. But this is a limited sync - it is only one way: from device to the PC. So you can’t really take your notes with you except the ones you created on the device. And the note-taking applet in these devices is not the strongest.

Enter OneNote Mobile. OneNote Mobile is your portable extension to OneNote that you get when you purchase OneNote. You install it on your Windows Mobile SmartPhone (this is semi-automatic so it is low hassle) and you’re good to go. [addendum: OneNote Mobile will run on WM 2003, 2003 2nd Edition, or WM5 (SmartPhone Edition). We've had a lot of feedback about supporting OneNote Mobile on PocketPC phones - rest assured we hear that!]

A few weeks ago, David Siedzik, the program manager for OneNote Mobile showed it to the mobile devices MVPs who were on campus and actually got a standing ovation! Read on to find out why.

When we shipped the syncing feature for mobile devices in OneNote 2003SP1, we had a few constraints that limited us to simply one-way sync (device to PC). A big one was that the built-in note applet was not designed with OneNote in mind, so it couldn't handle our data unless it were "dumbed down" to plain text more or less. We didn't have dev resources then to build our own SmartPhone client so that limitation wasn't going away. We also found that most people were interested in the "upload" scenario, although plenty were also interested in bringing their data with them. So we did the relatively cheap thing which let you take notes on your device and see them in OneNote.

OneNote Mobile goes way beyond that. It is a real note taking app for your mobile device. You can take text notes, voice record, or snap them with a camera. It has a cool picture viewer for navigating the image in detail.

Two-way Sync
When you first use OneNote Mobile, a special notebook (called "OneNote Mobile") is created in your PC version of OneNote. One section is created in that notebook and specified to sync with OneNote Mobile. Anything you put in that section makes its way onto your SmartPhone, and likewise anything you put on the phone goes up to the PC. Whenever you sync, only new items are transferred. Basically this section is a view onto your OneNote Mobile notes.

This is great for example to make lists of things to buy or do and taking them with you, then adding or subtracting items from them while on the phone. You can also put things like subway maps, directions, etc on your phone and have them with you to access at any time.

There are some tricks we did to account for the fact that OneNote mobile work on a very small screen, so the large pages in OneNote which can accommodate 2D layout have to behave differently in OneNote Mobile. When you sync a page in OneNote that has several note containers, each note container becomes a "page" in OneNote Mobile. If you edit these, they will still go back onto the same page in the right places. If you create a page in OneNote Mobile, then it becomes its own separate page in OneNote on the PC.

OneNote Features
OneNote Mobile has some helpful editing and formatting features such a bullets and numbered lists. Also, bold, italic, underline, strikethrough. One thing that is neat about OneNote Mobile is that since it can sync notes from OneNote onto the device, it can show much of the formatting of OneNote even though it can’t create that. If you edit the notes from OneNote, the formatting is retained. For example, you can view tables even though OneNote Mobile doesn’t let you create tables. You can also add items to a list numbered with e.g. Roman numerals and the numbering works, even though you can't assign roman numerals in OneNote Mobile.

One of the cooler features is the ability to pan and zoom on pictures and photos. You use the keypad to move around the image and then zoom in on any part of it. For example, pressing 9 progressively will zoom in on the lower right corner of an image. Pretty slick.

[correction: earlier I had a comment here about note flag support - I was wrong. My bad. Sorry.]

Prepare to blow your mind
The *killer* scenario for OneNote Mobile in my mind is "photo note taking". As you may know if you have a camera phone or digital camera, snapping photos is easy and they capture a lot of information instantly. These days when I travel, I take a photo of those plaques that are next to historical sites so I can have that info for later. It makes a nice interlude in the slide show too. With a camera phone, since you have it with you all the time you get even more aggressive. Here's a blog that lists some crazy stuff you can do with a camera phone.
It's great to capture all sorts of stuff for later viewing in full res on your PC in OneNote, where you can organize that stuff as needed.

But where OneNote Mobile really shines is when you combine it with our efforts to merge the Analog and Digital worldsNow you can take pictures of business cards, printed PowerPoint handouts, whiteboards, receipts, name tags, product spec sheets, etc. and all these photos flow into OneNote on your PC, where any text content gets OCR'd so that you can search for these pictures by the text that appears in them. Imagine snapping a photo of every business card you get handed and then tossing the card. All the images flow into your OneNote notebook and you can pull them up just by searching for a person's name or town or business name! Here's an example of a business card photo taken by OneNote Mobile and sync'd up to OneNote showing up in a search for the word "David". (David said it was OK to use his card but no crank calls or spam please!) You can see the target word is highlighted in the image:

Ok, is your mind blown or what?

Of course, image resolution plays a factor here. Those 640x480 (0.3MPx) cameras are not quite there. You need at least 1MPx and ideally 2MPx to get good OCR results. There is a lot to be careful about too - good focus is quite important although we have technology to try to deal with fuzziness, and text size has to be large if you have a low-res camera.

Keep in mind that quick *audio* notes you take on your phone and sync up to OneNote can ALSO be searched. As long as you don't have too much background noise when you speak the notes, all those Agent Cooper "notes to self" can now be archived and retrieved…


BTW, for those of you with Beta 1, you can find OneNote Mobile in the "1033" folder under the Office install directory. Send OneNoteMobile.cab to your device. i.e. open Explorer, copy the CAB to the Start Menu, and launch it. The version in Beta 1 does not have syncing with OneNote enabled - that is coming in the next Beta in the Spring.

Update (May 2006): With beta 2, installation is automatic and syncing with OneNote on the PC is supported. You need Active Sync 4.1 or later. Also, the OneNote Mobile team has added support for running on the PPC, but only on Windows Mobile 5. Windows Mobile 2003 and 2003 SE are NOT supported. Another new feature is that when you install the app to the storage card, attachments to notes such as images and recordings are stored on the card and not the device storage, which helps reduce the hit on device storage significantly.

Comments (101)
  1. Andy Lin says:

    Will a Pocket PC version be developed? This currently installs on a WM5 pocket pc device, but is incredibly rudimentary compared to your typical pocket pc application.

  2. Shahn Hogan says:

    Chris, this is really cool! But, where is the pocket pc support?

  3. Currently OneNote Mobile is only supported on SmartPhones. There’s some extra work (some dev but mostly testing) being considered to have it support a stylus driven UI so it can run on PPC as well, but no promises.

  4. spencer says:

    don’t usualy get excited about technolog – done that in the past way too much. it’s just a tool. but the graphic which searchable text. emmmm that’s something very cool

  5. Ben says:

    I got OneNoteMobile installed. Is there a way to make it store the notes on the storage card?? There’s no way I have space to use the picture capabilities if it stores to main memory.

    Would installing it to the storage card do it? I generally install programs to main memory, and put data on the card.

    I’m using a JasJar, and use OneNote on a Tablet, so I’m also pretty disappointed that the mobile edition won’t do ink.

    It’s a step in the right direction though! 🙂

  6. David says:

    Here’s to hoping for a pocketpc edition. 🙂

  7. matthew says:

    Yeah, I so much agree with the others. The pocketpc users, I’d expect, would be more likely to use OneNote Mobile than smart phone users. Please don’t leave us out! We want IN!!!

    i’m about to move to a company which uses (ghast) bberries. I would love to be able to add this to a list of reasons for why should consider the MS platform!

  8. Mike Torres says:

    This rocks. This is one of the reasons I don’t use OneNote that much – Outlook Notes stay in sync automatically for me, so I put up with their limitations.

    But… here’s another vote for a Pocket PC version.

    Some of the best phones coming out are running PPC (like the Audiovox PPC-6700 and new WM Treo). Forcing our customers to understand the difference between Windows Mobile operating system variants would be a shame.

    The Pocket PC also seems to be more focused on data input (i.e. data-centric people lean towards keyboards and stylus input over T9) So OneNote Mobile seems to align more with the PPC crowd than the SP crowd.

    Plus, I *really* want to use this!

  9. Mind totally blown. But also have fingers crossed for Windows Mobile 5 support.

  10. Another vote for a Pocket PC Version. Perhaps with WM2003SE support (for those of us who don’t want to be wasteful and throw-away otherwise perfectly good devices) and support for storing on a storage card?

  11. Daniel Escapa says:

    CORRECTION: The current version doesn’t support Note Flags.

  12. Colin Walker says:

    I’ve been playing with it a little bit and it’s pretty cool. I’d agree though that an option to change where you are storing your Notes is needed.

  13. Terri Schurter says:

    Another vote for a pocket pc version

  14. Here’s another vote for Pocket PC version (2003 SE if possible.) Actually I’m shocked that you went with the phone first. I would think it would be easier to scale OneNote to a Pocket PC than it would be to a SmartPhone. Here’s hoping.

  15. Tally another PocketPC form-factor request. I was sorely disappointed to find this didn’t install on my iPaq 6515 :(… but it looks very promising/mind-blowing.

  16. John Drummond says:

    Sounds great – I want to collect expenses etc with a picture and then them to be processed automatically on syncing (maybe with a little handholding) – eventually to trigger the whole workflow depending on expense, contact, blog comment, task or whatever.

    But Active sync needs improving – I’ve an HTC universal, windows mobile 5 and sometimes the sync works and sometimes not – it’s non trivial. Also it would be nice to have some of the original dos agenda functionality on the notes to help with triggering the workflow. But definitely the right direction.

  17. Timlink says:

    I’m assuming the Treo 700 will be a Windows Mobile 5 device and not a SmartPhone, so I’m really hoping you come out with a WM5 version.

  18. ppcme says:

    Here is another vote for a Windows Mobile 2005 (PocketPC) version!

  19. mskov says:

    And yet ANOTHER vote for a PPC version. Having owned both smartphone and PPC devices, I can say that the functionality gained from OneNote is much more useful on the PPC interface. Smartphones are mainly a read only interface, which doesn’t mesh with the 2-way sync idea.

  20. FeralBoy says:

    Yep, it’s time to do lunch will Bill, show him what you got, and ask for the resources to make it happen. This is too cool to limit to the Smartphone platform…

  21. One more vote for PPC

    1) bigger and better screens on PPC compared to most phones make for better use of color pictures, maps, etc… you brag about

    2) better keyboard options than for most phones for longer note taking sessions – thumbing only goes so far before it becomes uncomfortable and it pretty much has to be two handed

    3) I have a cell phone – I can’t talk on it and take notes at the same time – PPC version would allow that


  22. Julia Richert says:

    Another vote for PPC… this is a step in the right direction, but the product seems much better suited to the PPC crowd than to the Smartphone crowd. And darnit, I want to use it!

  23. A Kissane says:

    Yet *another* PPC vote. This seems *perfect* for PPC/PPC Phone Edition devices w/ keyboards–such as iPAQ 4355, which I have. I *want* OneNote Mobile enough to move to Windows Mobile 5.0 &/or Phone Edition in a heartbeat [which–to be honest–I’ve been looking for an excuse to do anyway]; but I want the PPC form factor, not a phone[-sized device].

    Here’s hoping…. Thanks!

  24. I still can’t believe that the PocketPC scenario has not been taken seriously. I’ve been steamed about this since talking to the OneNote guys during their lunch room tour this summer.

    I use my Pocket PC everyday to take notes. I have for years, but lets face it Pocket Word just doesn’t cut it. Without a Pocket PC version I’m simply not interested in OneNote. The mind blowing features you mentioned are cool gimicks, but I’m not going to use them in a meeting. I just don’t see the point of a note taking application on a device that has no text input mechanism. From the comments it looks like I’m not alone.

  25. Ken says:

    I own both a PocketPC and Windows Smartphone. I would MUCH rather use this on the PocketPC.

  26. Paul says:

    not that useful in my opinion, especially while very basic features are missing – like the ability to be able to categorise notes. (ie like outlook categories). Without categorisation information gets lost, which limits Onenotes use too much. Most equivalent programmes have this, so why note Onenote?

  27. treebeard72 says:

    I agree with the last poster re: PocketPC. I love Onenote and what is has provided to me regarding note taking, organization and information management. However, gaps exists between as-is Onenote and Killer-App Onenote and the biggest is the lack of a PocketPC roll-out. I am not in a position to acquire a Tablet-PC and have been awaiting Onenote’s arrival in the PDA space with bated breath.

    For example: I attend many meetings and work in a wireless, laptop’d work-environment. Typing notes into my laptop as the group works through requirements, issues or general discussion can be disruptive. I realize that this example might not be enough for MS to commit capital to a PocketPC roll-out but is probably the biggest reason I still carry a notebook around with me.

  28. Marauderz says:

    I love the fact that you’re working on a Windows Mobile version. But please.. POCKET PC support is a must!! I shifted from the Smartphone to the Pocket PC for feature and power. And now you tell me I need to move back in order to use the best app ever developed?? It would have been really very very very foolish to not think of Pocket PC support when thinking of a Smartphone version!

  29. Robbert says:

    Sounds good all. Any ETA on the next beta that does synchronise with the desktop OneNote?

  30. Majid says:

    What use is having a special "Mobile Notes" section?! This restricts data availability. When I work with my data, I don’t care where it exists, be it on my PC or mobile device. Say I’m working with my notes on my PC (not in the "mobile section"; I should just sync, edit on the same notes on my mobile device, and sync back!

    – Disappointed. I’ll just stick with Outlook notes. That’ll be /my/ "mobile notes" section.

  31. Majid says:

    What use is having a special "Mobile Notes" section?! This restricts data availability. When I work with my data, I don’t care where it exists, be it on my PC or mobile device. Say I’m working with my notes on my PC (not in the "mobile section"; I should just sync, edit on the same notes on my mobile device, and sync back!

    – Disappointed. I’ll just stick with Outlook notes. That’ll be /my/ "mobile notes" section.

  32. JIm E says:

    Another PPC vote. This would be awesome with my iMate K-Jam! I’ve been a long time user/fan of one note and being able to sync to my PPC would greatly enhance my usage! Can’t wait!

  33. Monaco says:

    Not just one more vote for Pocket PC support but also …

    A few wishes to Santa:

    – a perfect cross-linking with Outlook Mobile (of course): email, tasks, calendar, even link with contacts – yeah!

    – ability to set OneNote Mobile as default note-taking app (but enable way back to Oulook Notes)

    – store on storage card is a must! (what about syncing then?)

    – international language support from the very beginning (not just starting with English again and we have to wait for another half a year)

    Santa? Ready for fulfillment next xear?



    Windows Mobile News http://www.pocketpc-salzburg.at

    Windows Mobile Club Munich http://www.pocketpc-muenchen.de

    Windows Mobile Business Forum http://www.openbc.com/net/wmc

    and a few more German local clubs and online communities … all certainly voting for Pocket PC support!

  34. Chris says:

    I am just about to buy a O2 Atom phone which is a WM5 PocketPC-come-Smartphone device. I can’t understand why you *wouldn’t* target WM5 first when it will be the majority shipping mobile O/S come O12 rtm?

  35. Bryan says:

    PLEASE support WM5 and Pocket PC for note taking/syncing. It cannot be any other way… 😉

    The audio search sounds so very cool, I can’t wait to see it in action! Way to get some Microsoft Research in your already great product.

  36. Ole says:

    another strong vote for PPC support ….

  37. Hellooo! I can’t hear you! Did someone say they wanted us to support the PPC Phone?

    The sister team to ours that makes OneNote Mobile "for" us is following this blog so they have heard all your requests for PPC phone support. The two flavors of WM5 are not quite the same so it is a little extra work to support both as I mentioned (and a whole whack of testing). For now ON Mobile is Smartphone only. Yes we heard you.

    Regarding using the card memory for syncing, I was told that the card memory cannot be synced with the PC due to a device OS limitation. I presume that means using ActiveSync – I’ll follow up.

    Majid: Syncing a single section is a design compromise. Trying to provide a notebook-like UI to manage all your notebooks on the device would be pretty hard. Also, your notes would rapidly use up the device memory, so it is better to let you control what you want to have on the device by giving you a mobile section. You wouldn’t want to feel limited in what you could use PC OneNote for simply because whatever you put in there would be put on your device (large document printouts, audio and video can take up a lot of storage) In principle of course we would all like to have all our stuff on our device but this way provides a meaningful subset that can work with today’s limitations. That said, even a single OneNote section is much more powerful than Outlook notes on the device.

  38. Terry S. (ex-MVP) says:

    On the Pocket PC we just need a decent way to jot a note and get it easily to OneNote.

    To me, it almost doesn’t matter if there’s a way back.

  39. Terry S. (ex-MVP) says:

    BEFORE I’m flamed, I’m suggesting something richer than is currently available… the Pocket PC app should have all the tools & look and feel of OneNote and should probably import to side notes. Clipping would be great too!

  40. Rookie says:

    I have looked but can’t find the cab file you’re refferring to. Where can I find it exactly?

  41. Ethan says:

    I really think limiting the notes to a special Mobile section would impact the use of this product. SD cards are getting bigger and cheaper daily, and when I need to search for something, the odds of the target I need being in the Mobile section are just not good. I hear you on the linked/embedded documents, let alone the PDFs with their searchable text, but give us an option, PLEASE. Like, sync over everything, but only make documents/embeds/pdfs available as text, and leave the original docs on the computer you’re synching with. Something. I can’t imagine trying to remember having to put something in a special section, especially as it would mess up my organizational structure.

    How about using a Note Flag to indicate what should be sync’d? That way, if you wanted to take a hit on a specific PDF, memory-wise on your device, you could, if it was extremely important to have it. Of course, marking many notes/sections/folders with this Note Flag would have to be an easy thing to do… But please don’t relegate our data to a tiny corner of OneNote’s storage. Thanks for listening — it’s great to know MS is listening through your blogs and feedback.

    As a Palm Treo user, I’ve been sketching designs for a ON port, but I might be tempted to just go for the 700w when it comes out for this syncing capability. The port I was planning would’ve been only one-way, read-only and mainly for searching, but your mobile product sounds awesome! Hell, I’m even thinking of getting a tablet pc next year just to use the additional features of ON!

  42. Dong says:

    Ideally, onenote mobile should

    1) work with both PocketPC and Smart Phone

    2) option to sync any notebook/section

    3) support for SD/CF card

    So, I don’t think onenote mobile could get everything right in the first release. (Onenote 2003 itself was quite rough before SP2.)

  43. Robbert says:


    "Regarding using the card memory for syncing, I was told that the card memory cannot be synced with the PC due to a device OS limitation. I presume that means using ActiveSync – I’ll follow up."

    True, the program has to be installed on the device. It’s more about where you want to store your notes, this can be on the Storage Card without problems. Other Notes-programs do the same.

  44. Ann says:

    The recognition stuff really does blow my mind. It’s absolutely incredible, except that it’s only for phones!

    60% of the reason I will be buying a PPC is to get on the net easily without lugging my laptop everywhere. The other 40% is so that I can take notes in lecture. In fact, downloading OneNote for PC is one of the things that got me to start thinking in this direction. I thought, I would love to use OneNote in class. Then I remembered that an 8-lb laptop and a 10 story hill to scale every day just don’t mix. So, since November I’ve been begging for a PPC for Xmas. I thought Pocket OneNote would be so natural, so obvious, that there’s no way it could not happen. (Taking notes for 5 hours a day on a phone? You’ve got to be kidding me.)

    So, since you’ve already got that message loud and clear, I’ll try to give you my wish list:

    1. maybe this can be something to encourage phone and PPC-makers to incorporate high(er)-res cameras in their devices

    2. if it can search audio, then it can transcribe it too, right? I wouldn’t mind if I had to transfer to PC to do this though

    3. organization and storage would be very important in this situation. I want to be able to access my notes from a few days before, but I want them to be categorized exactly as they are on the OneNote on my PC

    4. I must be able to draw with a stylus. This is especially important for physics, chem, and other fields that require diagrams.

    5. There should be a download for or an integration of an easy way to show math

    6. Formatting and tables are a must

    7. A way to take internet images from the browser to ON would be handy. (I’m not sure how this works or if that’s not a problem as I don’t have my PPC yet)

    8. A way to incorporate video, for when PPCs widely get the ability to take it and store it (for moving overhead diagrams or to capture clips of longer vids)

    Wow, I don’t know what else to say. OneNote for PC is so inclusive, so perfectly suited for me that I can only ask you to keep as many features as possible in the PPC version. (Great job to the ON team, by the way!) Mostly I just want formatting, hand-drawn pictures, organization, audio notes, and photo integration, in that order. Expandability through downloads would be neat too, like templates from the Office site or add-ons.

  45. Pete says:

    Yet another vote for PPC. As an owner of an iPAQ and Treo 650 (will be 700 as soon as Cingular offers) I find myself juggling both form factors constantly – this would be very nice to have on the 700.

  46. Mobile Tech says:

    Oh please, oh please, oh please synch my tablet OneNote with my PPC. I’m running the old stuff, but HP has promised us an upgrade to ver 5 this spring.

    I like my phone to just be a phone, and my camera to just be a camera. But my computer is my life and should be capable of keeping it together.


    Mobile Tech

    MCSE, MVP, Dark Tech

  47. Skagen says:

    What I’m hearing doesn’t really make sense – you’re created what seems like a great product then seem to be crippling it.

    First PPC support needs to be the starting point. Smartphone is actually the throwaway. The kind of person that would use this thing would have a PPC phone.

    Secoond, why on earth are WM 5 and active sync 4.0 being released in the year 2005 – and it still cannot sync to the memory card which is a standrard part of the device – in fact in practical usage, the memory card is the location of the MAJORITY of memory capcity used on a PPC – or smartphone for that matter.

    Access to your data – or at least the key portions of it – are the point today and going forward in the future. Especially for somethig like this, which, if used properly – is like a brain dump of the infomation, thoughts and ideas and concepts MOST important to you, and probably most imporant to have since many of them are partially formed and in progress.

    OneNote needs to syncronize in full the PPC and it needs to do to the memory card. You’ve got to be able to at least SEE it all in once place, even if we acknowledge limitations on what you can enter or edit on the handheld. Otherwise this will be a crippled and overly compromised product.

    How about this as a bridge: at least create something to allow PPC users to stick an SD (or Mini-SD card) in a card reader and syncronize their OneNote Mobile data in full there. When 1,2,3,4 GB memory cards are available for peanuts – and exist in every PPC device, its pure criminal throw your hands up and to let the 64MB main memory limitation of a PPC phone be a bottle neck. Lets put it this way: if the main memory capacity of the PPC devices was the guide to software features, then there would be no point having the PPC or smartphone device playback music or playback video files – these things ASSUME that the user will to thatmemory card via reader. Why can’t you at least do that, if the Active sync and WM 5 team have let you down on that issue?

    I use various city and road maps extensively on my PPC phone, these are synced from . The software maker is http://www.memory-map.com. These are actually synced from the PC portion of the program down to the PPC. When I want to put a map on my PPC (which could be up to 300MB) it asks me if I want to the data (the map and its details place names etc, ) sync to a card in card reader – or come to think of it, it also gives me option of syncing direct to the PPC. Its slower but it IS there. So you guys really need to do offer the same on OneNoteMobile.

    Maybe its just me, but I was positive when I head about the new Office 12 and OneNoteMobile, but hearing the true details is actually disheartening. Another missed opportunity is how it seems to be shaping up to me. Its 2005 and people who buys these things are really needing more mobile value out of their applications.

    Sorry for the long comment, but as the type of person who really wants to use this product – but has so far rejected it in its previous incarnations – I hope you will really drive for better user VALUE in it. As described, its not quite there yet.

  48. Vance D. Erwin says:

    I agree with Skagen. I use PhatNotes for the PPC and my desktop but would switch in a heartbeat to OneNotes.

    To be this close and yet so far is just another example of how little attention you are paying to the Mobile user.

  49. Dan says:

    Two MUST HAVE conditions for upgrade purchase:

    1) PocketPC version!!! I have NO interested in a silly phone version.

    2) The PocketPC version should sync smoothly with the PC version. If you need to, just limit the syncing to text and formatting. Forget all of the "cool" voice, video, pics, stuff. Having a special "sync" section is dumb.

    I’ll go further…

    If the next verision of OneNote is released without these features (which virtually ALL OneNote users want), I will have to assume that the OneNote team just doesn’t "get it". And it they don’t "get it", I’ll dump the whole product and get something else.


  50. Ernest Cook says:

    When Win CE came out I bought a clamshell then later I bought the cool palm style and then the pocket pc came out and I bought the ipaq. They are all collecting dust as I tired of carrying around 2 devices and so now I use my simple little phone that is easy to carry around and sync’s my calendar and contacts.

    I installed the beta on my phone but as soon as I saw T9 in the corner I knew it would be near useless. I can’t even type in a quick address or phone # without major grief.

    Having said that, based on the availablity of Blue-tooth in the PPC edition, I am considering purchasing a new pocketPC (phone edition) that would enable me to have my old tools back but not have to hold a brick to my head all the time. Having OneNote on the phone that syncs with my PC’s onenote would seal the deal. In short…One more vote for PocketPC support.

  51. Kevin says:

    My mind is blown! But my mind would be even more blown if you guys made one note (with ink support if possible) for the mac.

  52. Maarten says:

    Very cool!! Looking forward to the next OneNote.

    I know someone who takes a picture of every meal he eats. That seems silly at first, but it’s actually very fun to look back on–especially special meals, meals on vacation, etc.

  53. mark o'brien says:

    let me join the pocket pc chorus and say that i just cannot understand why you would port this fantastic product to a relatively unusable platform like a smartphone. to me, the whole point of this software is collecting your info and data, and the smartphone environment is not worth the effort. i wouldn’t have bothered… it just doesn’t seem to be worth it at all.

    on the other hand, i have a workflow process that nicely uses both my pc and my ppc together for an excellent mobile solution, and having a product that i can only viably use on one of those platforms almost rules it out immediately, which is a real dilemma because i have fallen in love with onenote and its possibilities.

    please… port this to ppc asap!! i like onenote too much (even after just a week of playing with it) to just discard it out of hand, but right now it is nowhere near as mobile as i need it to be. and, judging from the comments, i’m obviously not the only one… 🙂

  54. Stephen Vilke says:

    This all sort of circles the same question for me and seems to be getting closer to laying the groundwork for a dream:

    I would love a One Note Appliance with an 8 inch screen

    Are there any devices out there that are Windows CE-like and are a super thin slate that could run this software? I would like a 7-8 inch screen or so….don’t need a full blown OS running – CE + this One Note Mobile would be fine. The closest thing I can think of is the old Clio, but don’t really need the keyboard. PPC screen is too small.

    I spend my day in One Note and reading Powerpoint presentations. I want to flip pages, without zooming, and be able to visually read the text. I can print the powerPoints into One Note at beginning of each day, and have a device to read it.

    So I guess the question is – when One Note Mobile was created, does it have the ability to run on any WinCE device, or jus the PPCs and Smartphones?

    Could a manufacturer create a thin, dedicated digital notebook and sell to the world of students and professionals?

  55. It sounds like people think SmartPhones can’t have keyboards. Is that assumption based on the few SmartPhones available in 2005? (none of which had keyboards I think). The Motorola "Q" is an example of a smartphone that sports a keyboard, and this sort of device was what the OneNote mobile folks were targeting for text note taking (not the T9-only devices).

    Bear in mind that a big part of the scenario that the ON Mobile guys wanted to support was making lists on your PC and having them on your phone (also update-able on the phone if necessary). This viewing of data on your phone works pretty well. So the Smartphone is not a crippled platform. It is only crippled if the device you chose doesn’t have the capabilities you want – but that is the device and not the platform.

    Now, of course we all want PPC support. We’ll see when that comes arund. No one is against it. Its just about resources and timing.

    Syncing to the storage card. Some people commented that other apps do this with data such as maps. Yes, but they do it one way and do not use ActiveSync to check for updates and partial syncs, etc. One way straight copy to the card is not hard at all, but doesn’t give you the automatic support we wanted. That said, there may be some little tricks to play that work around this so stay tuned. You can install the ON mobile *app* to the card, it is ActiveSync which is keeping the notes on device memory for now.

    I’ve heard arguments from the OneNote Mobile team who have been working with the app more than I have (I just got my smartphone a few weeks ago, an imate SP5m) as to why syncing only part of your notes is the most sensible thing. It goes beyond storage to the fact that on a small device navigating a lot of notes is hard, so having a small set to sync actually constrains the usage into the set of scenarios we think is actually going to be usable on the phone. For example, being a single section, navigating is easy – just up/down through the stack. If you add multiple sections and notebooks that UI gets uglier. You also have problems if you sync all your notes, since you can easily make note pages on the PC version of Onenote that cannot be displayed well on Onenote Mobile due to screen size, and then if you also edit those pages you may lose layout info. So you wouldn’t want to be constrained in all your note taking on the PC to what can display well on the device.

    The idea is that if you have a single section you know is going to the device, you can take special care not to do fancy stuff there. I’d love to hear usage scenarios from people that require more than a section to be synced (and not just calls of "obviosuly you want everything"). The scenarios and why the data you need on the phone has to be in more than one section are very useful to the ON Mobile team.

  56. Sounds really cool!

    Can you save us from click-fatigue on microsoft or msdn and tell us how to sign-up for the Office 12 beta? (is it possible JUST to get the new OneNote beta without everything else?)

    I’m curious – have you guys seen the service http://www.scanr.com? I just came across it a few days ago but haven’t tried it yet. I’m assuming that because they use a hosted service provider model (email the photo to them) they have a lot more back-end processing they can do. I wonder how the results compare?

    Vis a vis the comments on support the Pocket PC versus only supporting SmartPhones: I think the trend is clear – the standalone PPC/PDA is a dying product while the SmartPhone is the emerging converged device.

    I’ve had a Toshiba PPC (the first one with built-in WiFi) and after a while it simply stayed on my desk – too much trouble to carry it plus my cellphone.

    Last month I jumped back in and got the Sprint PPC-6700 – the first WM5/SmartPhone released in the US and it has a sliding keyboard and large screen.

    What a difference! Now I’m always carrying a phone (BT wireless headset makes it usable as a phone) and have built-in music player, PDA, etc. etc.

    Yes, there are compromises (screen size, keyboard, etc.) versus a standalone PDA, but the single-device-including-phone is definitely the way everything is headed (Motorola Q, Treo 700W, etc.)

    Your development target (SmartPhone first, PPC backported later if time/resource available) makes absolute sense.

    What about Microsoft voice command integration? This is a truly "secret" killer app from Microsoft for SmartPhones. Amazing how well it performs as a speaker independent voice reco — but why doesn’t it work over the BT headset ???

  57. Robert, Thanks for the comments. I agree that the non-phone PDAs are probably in decline. But there are two flavors of WM5 devices that are phones – PocketPC based (supports ink, touchscreen) and Smartphone. It’s quite reasonable to want support for ON Mobile on the PPC phone – it is the other half of the WM5 "smart" phone story. In fact I believe the PPC 6700 is a PPC phone, not a Smartphone, no? The Treo 700W certainly is a PPC phone and not a "Smartphone", although they are all generically small "s" smartphones. How confusing!

    I haven’t played with scanr, but I will say that you’ve got your CPU concept backward. When you process on the client you have a full CPU all to yourself. When you use a service, (assuming it has any customers :-)), you are sharing what CPUs they have with everyone else. So even if their servers are 5x as powerul as your PC individually, if you’ve got a higher ratio than 5:1 of customers to servers using the service at any one moment you are getting less CPU power. This is a well known problem with scalability of web services – in general the more processing you can do on the client the better. Servers are good for making connections, not doing computational intensive work.

    Beta 1 is closed, but you can get Beta 2. Try this:


    Click the “Register Now” button. Near the upper right (in the header image)

    The preview will be much slicker and better functioning than beta 1.

  58. Brian Nantz says:

    +1 for the PPC edition. This seems strange since there is little difference between WM5 smartphone and ppc especially if you are using CF??????????

  59. James Pratt says:

    Add one more to PPC edition. I was shocked I could not manage my onenote information from my recently acquired PPC.

  60. Thomas Kaufmann says:

    I have OneNote 2003 11.66 SP2 on my lap top, registered, but no disk any more, how can I put OneNote Mobile on my Sprint 6700?



  61. Thomas, the 6700 is a PPC phone, and so not supported in the current beta of OneNote Mobile. Also, OneNote Mobile comes with OneNote 2007, which is also only in beta. it does not sync with OneNote 2003.

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

  63. Ray says:

    The PPC seems like a better note taking solution than the smart phones.  I have a Dell Axim x50 with the bluetooth keyboard and a mobile version of onenote would be Great!!! Heres to hoping

  64. Greg Tangey says:

    +1 for Pocket PC and ink support on said pocket pc

    Im just about to get my Wm5.0 pocket pc, this started making me excited, until i saw "No Pocket PC Support" i deffinately agree with everyone else in saying, i see alot more PPC users using such an app, than smart phone users.

    I also think this is a missing hole in the lineup of PPC apps around atm.. theres nothing seriously good for just taking down a note like you would on a piece of paper.

  65. Ben says:

    yeah, I’m going to be getting a Sprint 6700 and I was so excited about ON Mobile, especially seeing as ON 2207 will support Shared Notebooks. Shared Notebooks is huge for my company, we are often meeting with governments and our clients at the same time and we need to be able to work on the same notebook, and not have to worry about emailing the notebok around. I was hoping that ON Mobile would support this so we won’t have to deploy Tablets for everyone meeting. So I guess I’d just like to say "one more vote for the PPC!"

  66. Jake says:

    As a student it would be nice to take notes directly into OneNote on my pocket pc and then sync with my laptop.  I currently have to copy and paste my notes into Word in order to have my notes with me at school.  If the student is one of your target markets it seems like you(Microsoft) would accommodate our needs.  In all of the forums I have seen for OneNote everybody is requesting OneNote for their pda.  Will somebody please listen!!!

  67. Robert Vasco says:

    Here is another vote for PPC. I have a samsung I700 ppc phone edition and could not live without it.

    I believe the major reason that PPC devices have not been more popular is due to the default note taking app – it just doesn’t work and it’s annoying to write on.

    Phatpad is fantastic. It’s what PPC should come with by default but it doesn’t sync with outlook or onenote.

    It would be great to have all our notes from onenote in the PPC but at minimum the ability to sync with one section would be great. One program that may allow syncing with the storage card is MightSync. It allows you to sych any folder on your PPC with any folder on your PC. It’s slower than activesych but it works really well.

    In regards to mobile trends in general. Tablets, ultramobiles, and smartphones are all great – but PPC (especially the phone version) is what truly many people need. Most of the time I don’t want to lug anything around but I want the ability to access all my data and enter data quickly. The PPC is the closest thing in terms of size and convenience that could do this. I believe if onenote was available for PPC it would make both products immensely more usable.

  68. Ellen Beeman says:

    This may be what drags me away from my Pocket PC and into the Smartphone (with keyboard) camp!  Though it’d be great if development resources do come available at some point to build a PPC version, for those of us with styli addiction.  🙂

  69. Heber Acquafreda says:

    I think PPC should be the first platform considered, and not Smartphones. OneNote could bring a much more organized way to store notes on the PPC, and certainly would be a must have app. The native Notes app is simply outdated in relation to the capabilities found on the newer PPC Phones.

  70. Phil Bean says:

    I also own both a PocketPC and Windows Smartphone and I would only use this on the PocketPC opposed to the Smartphone as mentioned by another user, you can’t talk on the phone and take notes at the same time and the PPC (WM2003) is more comfortable to use oppposed to the smartphone.

  71. Alicia White says:

    Add my vote to the pocket pc side.  I have a Sprint 6700 and would love to have ON on my PPC.

  72. Kevin O'Neill says:

    I just delivered a presentation yesterday on the use of digital technology in nursing education. There is great interest out there for making OneNote available for the Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition (I thought that the whole idea was to integrate the whole world under Windows Mobile). I did a demo of ON on a LS800 Tablet PC. The participants (nursing educators) felt that the availability of ON on Windows Mobile would be a winner!

  73. Nuno says:

    Where can I get OneNote Mobile?  Is it included with OneNote?

    I have a Cingular 8125 and would love to be able to sync my OneNote data to and from it.

    I’m a SE and I use it to keep track of calls and installs.

    It would be nice to go to a customer site and have all of the install notes readily available.  Any changes done to the installation would be recorded on my WM5 device and synced with OneNote later.

    Visio viewer for WM5 would be nice also BTW.

  74.        Here’s a collection of interesting articles I came across in the morning’s blog…

  75. Taco says:

    Another PPC6600 user who was all excited when he read about mobile one note, then slapped in the face when he read it was Smart Phone only?! My PDA is a phone, but it has a slide out keyboard and a bunch of memory so you rule it out? Bad move guys. Support all PDAs and phones.

  76. Douglas Dodd says:

    I just downloaded OneNote 2007 Beta 2 today and installed OneNote Mobile on my Samsung i730.  PDA version at last!  This is sweet…

  77. Douglas: yes, for Beta 2 the OneNote Mobile team added support for Windows Mobile 2005-based PPC devices which should make a lot of people commenting here happy. Glad you like it!

    OneNote Mobile 2007 beta 2 also lets you sync attachments (embedded files, etc) to storage cards rather than device memory (if you install OneNote Mobile to the storage card) which should help with the hit on device storage.

  78. crispeto says:

    OK, am I just dumb here? I installed OneNote on my pc and then was given the chance to install it on my smartphone (Tmo SDA w/win mobile 5). OneNote works fine on both devices but I cannot sync. My smartphone version is installed directly on the phone and not a mem card. If I create a note in either the pc or sm version, it will not sync. The note in the pc version is in the mobile notebook and active sync shows that OneNote is checked. Why doesn’t it sync? Thanks

  79. yves goldberg says:

    Hello Chris, I have beta2 but I’m unable to install on ppc wm2003se (nor on an wince 4.2 device).

    Is it only compat. with windows mobile 2005 ppc?


  80. Kevin Daly says:

    Now that PPC support has been added it really *would* make sense if that support included inking, if for no other reason than it’s something people will expect (it is supposed to be part of the platform after all), and why create unnecessary consumer frustration?

    The cynical, unfair side of me suspects that in future the project initiation process for PPC software at Microsoft will go like this: "You mean lots of people haven’t switched to UMPC yet? Rats! Oh well, re-jig the Smartphone version for them".

    PS. The OCR and such *does* sound very cool. Useful even.

  81. Darren Blade says:

    I tried installing the Onenote Mobile via manual cab transfer and via the "/options/other" in Onenote 2007 Beta 2.

    In both cases during installation on my Imate Jam WM 2003 SE (4.21.1008) it returns a message in a popup that the cab file is not a valid setup file!

    From earlier info the install should work on all Wince 4.20+.

    So not sure why the error! I’m liking the improvments over my Onenote 2003 installation, and really see the advantage from what I have read so far…pity its not working…yet!

    Any help would be appreciated.

  82. I’m about to install ON Mobile on my Sprint PPC-6700 (wm5.0).  But from what I’ve read here and on pocketpcthoughts.com, I’m already disappointed at the lack of ink support and the intentional Smartphone-bias.  I’ll give it a try though…

  83. crispeto: make sure you have Active sync 4.1 or later.

    yves and Darren: OneNote Mobile does not support the PPC on the older WM 2003 and 2003 SE. Only WM 5 is supported on the PPC.

    Kevin Daly: yes, adding more features to OneNote Mobile would make a lot of sense. We plan to. For now, the feature set is what it is though. You can’t have everything all at once or we’d never be able to release it.

    Hal: the other option would be to not have ON Mobile at all. So which is better? At least there is something, and ink is not everything – I like taking photo notes a lot.

  84. Somebody says:

    OneNote Mobile NEEDS he ability to PASTE info from SMSs etc.

  85. David Young says:

    I can’t get One Note mobile to install on my Audiovox 6600

    PPC/cell phone. The Audiovox runs  Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition version 4.21.1088 [Build 14235.2.0.0]


  86. Alan Mellerick says:

    OneNote 2007 as previewed in the Office 2007 Beta 2 is great, but may I voice my displeasure at OneNote Mobile *only* being made available for WM5! My device only supports 2003 2E, and due to hardware restrictions cannot be upgraded, yet it is less than a year old!

    Now I find out I can’t use the Mobile Device extensions for OneNote 2007 – why? *Please* ask your colleagues in MS to re-think this decision!

  87. Scott says:

    OneNote Mobile looks amazing, but I only wish Microsoft would broaden their thinking (and their market) to other platforms than Windows-based smartphones, namely Symbian. At least here in Europe, Symbian phones are much more common. While it of course makes sense for Microsoft to support their own platform first, I see no reason why OneNote Mobile could not be ported to Symbian Series 60 (or 80) with the same functionality.

  88. Calum says:

    I also would like to voice my displeasure at the fact this very simple application is not allowed to be installed on any version below WM5 on PPC!!

    To me this smacks of a marketing policy rather than hardware requirements, as the application will run and sync if installed manually from the files in the cab on 2003SE (pocketpcthoughts.com forums), am personally ive got it to run on the 2003 but without sync at the moment.

  89. Anthony says:

    After installing Beta 2 of OneNote the OneNote Mobile Notes notebook does not show up in my PC OneNote program…. Any ideas?

  90. Frankie says:

    OneNote mobile Doesn’t work very well on windows smartphones 5.0 and sad to say and only if windows smartphones had a better resolution camera that can capture tiny text on a text form or buisness cards and the images on here seem to be take with a realy camera and after serval trials Of OneNote on diffrent windows devices doesnt work like they say.

  91. Mikhail says:

    Is OneNote mobile going to be developed further before the final release of OneNote 2007?

    Or this is a final list of features that are making it in the official release?

  92. Alex Woodrow says:

    Why no Windows Mobile 2003.  My company all run 2003 devices and I after using Beta 2 of OneNote was about to put it on the list for everybody’s laptops and PCs, so they could also use it in the field. However without the support for WM2003 it makes the decision marginal.

  93. Chris says:

    Support for WM2003/WM2003SE on PPC is a must.  there are many users out there with perfectly fine PPC who cannot upgrade to WM5.

    It would be very disappointing and short-sighted of MS not to support WM2003.

  94. Jackson Howa says:

    Excuse me for beating a dead horse, but as a person who owns both a wm5 smartphone and a wm5 PPC phone edition, ON mobile is a great product BUT it is almost completely useles without ink support. Even on a Smartphone with a keyboard, there’s no real reason to use ON Mobile on a smartphone. Anyone who purchased a smartphone rather than PPC phone is not intending to take extensive notes with it like a PPC user.

    How hard can it truly be to add ink support? Wasn’t the big deal about wm5 the fact that it was going to have tons of new API’s that it would make it a dream for developers? And now MS itself is saying it can’t develop properly for the PPC?

    I guess I’m just tired of MS trying to tell us what we want ("No, the Smarphone platform isn’t ‘crippled’" – pft) instead of just listening – or even thinking through their products completely before developing them.

  95. Alan, Calum, etc: not supporting WM2003 and 2003SE on PPC is a technical resource issue, not a marketing one. Marketing would actually be ecstatic if we had the resources to get it to work on all platforms. Unfortunately, we couldn’t and next time around (2008? 2009?), 2003 and 2003SE will be even older and an even smaller % of the total installed base, so unless there’s a big change I suspect they won’t be supported.

    Mikhail: no, beta 2 is not the final feature set for Onenote mobile. A few new things have been added I’m told (haven’t tried it on PPC myself as I have a smartphone), but apparently some stylus support (not ink), copy paste at least are added.

    Jackson and others: as I’ve said above, there are many ways to use OneNote Mobile effectively. It would be great if we could do everything in the first release, but it is too strong to say that because it does not do one thing you want that it is "useless" for other people too. Ink is an obvious thing to try to add in the next go-round.

  96. Wes says:

    I downloaded the beta of OneNote after I heard of the WM support. I’m a musician, a Motorola Q owner, and user of OneNote for writing lyrics. I really like the 2 way sync! And the fact that if I am sitting at work, and get a killer idea for a synth riff, i can record it into my microphone and attach it. My only gripe with it so far is how it syncs my worksheet on my Q. When I use OneNote for lyrics, I generally use seperate text blocks for my verses, chorus, etc. But when it syncs, it just puts it on my Q as some archaic name like "song001" or "song002". It would be fantastic if when you synced it, it merged the text blocks and put them on the WM device as one sheet. But when you edit say the chorus line…it affects only the chorus block on OneNote.

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