OneNote and Origami

Update: if you use OneNote 2003 with an Origami (Ultra-Mobile PC) device, you should get this hotfix which takes care of an incompatibility between the two (only get it is you find that ink strokes disappear after you write them). This hotfix does not apply to normal Tablet PCs - only the UMPCs that let you use your finger in addition to the stylus. 

You may have heard some of the buzz about the Origami project - an ultra-mobile PC initiative that Microsoft is spearheading. You can learn more about it here. In summary it is a lightweight (<2lb) kind of Tablet PC with a touch screen which you can use with your fingernail or any pointed object. It has a 7" screen and no keyboard (although one can be attached).

I've had a bunch of questions about OneNote and whether it will ship on Origami devices. Bear in mind of course that Microsoft does not actually make these PCs. As with the tablet PC and other PCs, other companies make them so they decide what specific hardware and software go into the actual units. Microsoft just does a "reference" design to show what is possible and what we think would work well with the software.

That said, I expect to see OneNote 2003 (later 2007) on most of these devices because it is an ideal application for this form factor. You'll be able to take OneNote places you wouldn't bring your laptop, and record audio, take ink notes, draw diagrams, flag items to categorize them or for follow up and so on. With these devices you'll most likely be browsing, doing email, listening to music, and capturing notes.

OneNote 2007 has a new mode we currently call "minimal UI mode" (insert sexy name here). It's designed to cut out distractions for when you really just want to take notes. Those of you with tablet PCs also know that the more screen space that can be devoted to ink the better since you tend to write much larger than you type. OneNote 2003 also has a minimal UI mode, but it is only available when the OneNote window is very narrow (<300px or so) because it was designed for quickly jotting a one to two-line note or dragging something into it from the web. In OneNote 2007 this mode is available at all window sizes, even maximized. It hides the navigation UI (page, section and notebook tabs), as well as any extraneous toolbars or task panes and leaves you with just the set of commands you need to take notes on a page.

The Origami devices will have a 800x480px screen res minimum, but there has been talk of running them at 1024x600 or 1024x768 in software and using smart downsampling to 800x480 so that you seem to have more screen dots than are actually available. Either way, OneNote's new minimal UI mode is going to make the most of the dots you have. Here's a screen shot of OneNote 2007 at 800x480 in minimal UI mode.


Comments (35)
  1. Another Bill Gates Gold Mines.

  2. furu says:

    Great! 🙂 Now if only you can get rid of that title bar…

  3. UMPC Buzz says:

    Chris Pratley lets us know that OneNote and Origami are perfect for each other:

    You’ll be able to take…

  4. Darks1de says:

    Been following Origami for some time now, has some good potential of being a very usefull office device, more so than pocket PC’s due to their compatibility problems.

    The larger screen helps as well, the Sat Nav possibilities are definatley interesting.

    Funny thing though With Bill strongly denying any market push towards handheld gaming / media handheld.

    Strengly enough the device has good positioning of controls to the left and right?, and comes with Windows media Live library.

    But with other more usefull application like onenote (which i use a lot between my desktop and laptop) will make this device even more appealing.

  5. Mike Drips says:

    If OneNote can’t run in a mode better than "minimum UI" on the Origami based mini tablets then I definitely would not purchase nor recommend the purchase of one of those devices. The possibility of running OneNote was my only criteria for even considering the purchase of one of those mini-tablets.

    No butt kissing intended, but OneNote is the only decent "upgrade" in the Office 2007 product, at least based on my daily usage of Beta 1. (Thank you, BitTorrent!)

  6. Wild about OneNote says:

    Yeah, I agree — I wish we could get rid of the title bar too.  It would be so much better to be able to choose which screen elements to show in full-screen mode, just like Word.  In Word the menu bar even autohides/autoshows when you point to the top of the screen.  

    In fact, when I’m writing notes I’m just writing — I don’t usually need any of the tools, except to expand page size — and OneNote 2007 automatically expands so I don’t need that anymore either. Plus I can always right-click.

    Of all the applications that offer a full-screen mode, I would use it the most in OneNote, so I wish I could understand why the OneNote team chooses to keep us from having a true full-screen as an option.

  7. Question says:

    How much different will inking be on a touch-screen versus the active digitizer, as in quality and handwriting recognition for searches?  (Of course there wouldn’t be pressure sensitivity, which I would miss.)  

    And how different/similar would it be to using the new OneNote for Windows Mobile/PocketPC devices?

  8. Ben says:

    yeah, too much UI still…i want it to be REAL full screen with some dashboards that come up instead of a docked bar at the top…use some of that Aero in Vista!

  9. Jeff Bridges says:

    I want a full screen to write on in OneNote on the origami.  Maybe a button in the top left that can slide our the title bar and ink options, but that’s IT.

    More importantly, can I change the screen’s rotation?  I don’t want to write 800 pixels wide and only 480 pixels down – I’d much prefer a screen that is 480 wide by 800 long to write on.  Makes more sense, at least to me, from a note-taking perspective.

    Also, since it’s a touch screen not a tablet, do I need to have my hand hover above while I write with the stylus, or can the machine figure out that when I lay my hand on the screen I don’t want it marked down?

  10. Stefan Constantinescu says:

    Yuck at minimal mode, are you guys taking any ideas for them? I could whip up something in photoshop.

  11. David says:

    Hmmm… new names for minimal mode…

    Clean Screen

    Notetaking mode

    Pad View/ Pad mode

    Sketch mode


    Bikini mode (that one might not fly)


  12. David says:

    I just noticed on the MS site that there is a version of Sudoku in the games section for the UMPC’s.  Do you know if this will be standard, and if so, do you think it will be downloadable for us other TabletPC people?!

    (I know, it’s not OneNote related — but I had a constructive post, too!)


  13. Ron says:

    I could definitely see the Origami product and OneNote replacing the little black Blueliner books that all us techie geeks like to take to meetings.

    OneNote on a product the size of the Blueliner book would be fantastic; however, I need a keyboard to type at the speed I need to in order to take good notes.

    I think it should have a slide-out keyboard … like you see on some Smartphones.

  14. Scott says:

    David … if you are looking for a Tablet PC Sudoku game you ought to go and grab a copy of GoBinder 2006 …  There is a free Sudoku plug-in that you can download from the Agilix Forums!

  15. BORING says:

    The year 2000 called, it wants its web tablets back.

  16. SassKwatch says:

    After all the hype, the irony is that there is really nothing new here. Devices of this nature have been available in the past. We used the device linked to above at work for a couple yr back when Win98 was the ‘in’ desktop OS of the day……and Win2K was *just* coming to market.

    Undoubtedly, a few improvements have been made, but the overall concept is nearly identical.

  17. Colin Walker says:


    With all the talk about UMPCs there seems to have been very little mention about actually inking on these devices. Is there any palm rejection technology employed on UMPCs? If not how effective is something like OneNote going to be on a UMPC?

  18. Colin: My understanding is that the recommendation from Microsoft to the OEM manufacturers is to go with a slightly less pressure sensitive screen in order to get rid of palm pressure as an issue. That also means that a fingertip will often not register – you may need to use your fingernail or a stylus to push buttons or ink. Of course I have no idea what manufacturers will actually do.

    As to the various comments about full screen, we just found our about Origami a few weeks ago ourselves (it was that secret) so we’re just adapting minimal UI mode to it. I am not sure we’ll have time to do anything specific to origami devices because of the late notice. That said, a lot of people use features like note flags while inking so hiding all UI is probably too much. Auto-hiding the title bar is harder than it should be. I’ve been using minimal UI mode on my tablet in portrait layout and I have to say I LOVE it.

    OneNote Mobile is a totally different application from OneNote. OneNote Mobile has a different UI optimized for a very small screen (320×240). OneNote itself is the same on any PC, except on Origami and other Tablets it picks up a few additional tablet features.

    darkS1de: I’m not sure what BillG reference you have about handheld media. We already provide software for the Portable Media Center which is a handlheld media effort.

  19. Colin Walker says:

    Thanks for the response Chris. Let’s hope the OEMs are following the guidance or some of the flexibility offered by UMPCs will be lost.

  20. Chris says:

    What other things does this offer that a $400 Smartphone currently doesn’t (ie value add).  

    I’ve got Word, Powerpoint, Access, Excel, Outlook (calendar, task, contacts).  I can play movies, mps, podcasting, video podcasting, have pictures, watch TV and make phone calls.  

    …and it currently fits in my pocket vs. what still appears to me as something I would never take to a restaurant with me or go to the mall with?

    Thanks for the response as I am new to this area.


  21. rlobrecht says:

    How is the inking on a touch screen vs. an active digitizer?  Any quality or recognizition lost?

  22. David says:

    Chris (not Chris P) wrote:

    "What other things does this offer that a $400 Smartphone currently doesn’t (ie value add).  

    I’ve got Word, Powerpoint, Access, Excel, Outlook (calendar, task, contacts).  I can play movies, mps, podcasting, video podcasting, have pictures, watch TV and make phone calls.   "

    The form factor is way different — you could actually work for real on this machine, and I, personally, can’t on my Samsung i730 (I presume this is the class of machine you were referring to).

    Also, I can’t stand "flipping pages" in an ebook after every paragraph on the small screen, or scrolling around on a web page to see everything, or trying to take notes in a meeting on that tiny screen, etc.  

    So, these devices are different tools for different times/places/people.  I’m guessing you are not match to the new machines (or haven’t realized it yet!).  So be it…


  23. The implementation of Sudoku that ships with the UMPC devices has been released on MSDN at  It will run on standard Tablet PCs, it includes the full source code, and it also includes a 60 page article explaining the code. Enjoy! 🙂

  24. jv says:

    Chris, do you know if the new OneNote will be able to search for the notes you put into OneNote (like Word files and pdf files) not just your handwritten notes?

  25. Terry S says:

    I have a Samsung Q1.  Because the touch screen cannot discriminate between a stylus and my hand, OneNote is completely ineffective using ink.  As I rest my hand on the screen to write, the touch screen recognizes the side of my and and all is lost (wild ink marks).  I can’t even imagine trying to use something like Alias Sketch.  Visio might be OK though.

    We need a way to temporarily turn off a portion of the touch screen so we can rest our hand while inking in OneNote.  As it is, the Q1 is too uncomfortable to use with ink.  There is a keyboard and case that holds both, but now the thickness doubles…less than ideal for a UMPC.

    I may try finding a piece of plexiglass as a hand support, but then I’ll probably wind up with scratches on glossy black case (and it’s something else to carry around).

    Guess I’ll go back the overheating Motion LS800 (the Q1 is beautiful and about half the weight though…boo hoo).

  26. Terry S says:

    I cannot find how to turn on the minimal mode in the main page of OneNote 2007…it comes up if I start a new note from the Task Bar, but I don’t see another way…

  27. Terry S.

    I was hoping that an Oragami device would be the ultimate One Note machine, I’m very disappointed to hear your comments.

    Let’s hope MS and the manufacturers can figure something out.


  28. Terry S says:


    Right now it looks like the LS 800 is as close as it gets… bummer.

  29. Terry, for the hand issue, that was of course the main engineering thing that Microsoft worked out with the OEMs – otherwise the inking is useless as you discovered. As I mentioned above that should not be happening. I don’t have a UMPC to check, but perhaps there is a setting in Control panel to adjust the sensitivity? In any case, is best to post this concern in the TablletPC blog or newsgroups. I am sure there is a fix. Also try Tablet PC Buzz forum on UMPC (

    The minimal UI button is to the right of the help menu (top row where the menus are)

  30. TerryS says:

    Chris, thanks for your comments.  I’ve looked throughout the Control Panel and the Samsung provided driver applet.  I’ve tried upgrading the driver from OEM touch screen site (a dismal failure).  Nothing to improve the situation.  I’ve posted a help request on TabletPCBuzz…let’s see where that goes.  It doesn’t look like th TabletPC group is very active in Blogs, I will try the MS Newsgroups.

    When tapping the full screen icon, OneNote still shows the menu line.  When picking a new note from the taskbar, no menu line.

    Another oddity about the Q1…it doesn’t seem as though the TIP can be undocked.  Others have experienced the same thing.

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