OneNote 64 bit print driver


UPDATE: Please see my recent post on a solution for Printing to OneNote on 64 bit OSes.




We've been getting quite a few questions and concerns about the "Print to OneNote" print driver that comes with OneNote 2007 not being supported on 64 bit OSes. I just wrote the following in response to a blog post and some comments about it on the GottaBeMobile site. I'm posting it here too for reference. It explains some of the context behind where we're at on this, and why. We fully understand how important the print to OneNote feature is, and we apologize that the print driver for this that shipped with OneNote 2007 doesn't work on 64 bit OSes. We plan to address this in the next version of OneNote.

For the print to OneNote feature in OneNote 2003 and 2007, we are dependent on a piece of technology called MODI, or Microsoft Office Document Imaging component. It's a very, very large amount of code, and quite an old piece of code that is difficult to support.

Drivers must be fully ported from 32 bit to 64 bit to work on 64 bit OSes. 32 bit Application code works on 64 bit OSes on top of an emulation layer (called WOW64 or Windows on Windows 64), so getting the application code to work is not too hard. Drivers are a whole different story though because they hook into the OS at a lower level and can't run on WOW64 emulation. Also, older drivers tend to contain a lot of low level code and often assembly code that is not easy to port.

Given the size of the code, and the issues above, porting the MODI print driver for OneNote 2007 would be a LOT of work. Work that we would have to trade off directly against other improvements, and features that many users such as yourselves have been asking us for. That makes it a difficult decision. One we thought about a lot.

The solution we have is we think a better one for OneNote users in the long run. We will be moving the print driver component to a new technology in our next release of OneNote. One that has several benefits including the quality of the users experience, the quality of the printout rendering and some others I can't detail right now. This new technology also supports 64 bit natively, so we kill two birds with one stone. We're quite confident that is the right decision, but unfortunately because of the nature of this technology, we couldn't back port it to make it work in OneNote 2007. That left us in a difficult position. We could either do lots of work to port MODI AND transition to this better, easier to maintain technology for the future, but that would have been at the cost of perhaps most of the features and improvements you've all been asking for.

Ultimately, given the current market data on take up rate of 64 bit client OSes, we concluded we were better off aiming for the best experience for the next release of OneNote when 64 bit OS penetration will start to be significant. The benefits of running 64 bit OSes at the moment are pretty slim. There are very few desktop applications yet that need or can take advantage of the address space (servers sure can though...). So you won't really notice a performance improvement with a 64 bit OS on your desktop, but that will change over time, and we want to be ready for it with the best possible solution.

Unfortunately, great software development is full of such difficult trade offs. We're not idiots (we hope). And we're not malicious (we love our product and want our users to love it too). We just have finite resources, and are trying to make the best trade off decisions to deliver the best possible product.

Comments (13)
  1. HiltonT says:

    Hi David,

    Do you want to know *why* 64-bit OS uptake has been so poor in the Windows world?  Well, in the main part, it is because application compatibility with x64 versions of Windows (XP, 2003 and Vista in particular) is so badly done.  Application vendors, lead by Microsoft, have been utterly underwhelming in their support for x64 under Windows.

    Whilst the majority of Office runs under x64, there are major parts that don’t function at all – you nailed one of them above, the "print to OneNote" driver, and another big one is Folder Synchronization under Groove.  You can add to this the inability for the Office Clean-up Wizard to run under an x64 OS.

    You can add to this the lack of a WHS Client for x64 that, as of this date, we’re still waiting for (along with a fix to address the "Microsoft rusts your data as it writes it" bug that were it in any product without "Home" in its name, would have been treated as ultra critical, not to mention that this was reported initially during the beta phase of WHS and is still to be fixed).

    Add to this 3rd party vendors’ inability to get their software and drivers running under a Windows x64 environment and you can see that Microsoft’s support for x64 is, well, quite poor, and is encouraging 3rd party vendors to treat x64 as badly.

    In the Linux world, even though you don’t want to hear this, they have had x64 support for many years before Microsoft eventually worked out how to release an x64 OS (WS2003 SP1 and XP x64) and a great deal of the applications for Linux will run perfectly well in that environment.

    Microsoft has a lot to learn about writing and running in an x64 world before it can catch up to Linux (not to mention what they need to do to regain focus on what they were once good at and have now let wither almost to the poit of dying) and it is a shame that there’s no-one at the helm in there currently who understands the term "direction".

    And no, I’m far from a Linux Everywhere proponent, but I also don’t willingly don the rose colored MS glasses and drink their Koolaid either.

  2. bluespapa says:

    I appreciate an explanation, David, that sets it into a context of resources; I think of print drivers as quite small.  HiltonT has some points about frustration with Microsoft.  

    One is that a customer trying to make informed decisions about purchasing the computer James Kendrick was testing, with all the fancy bells and whistles, finds the badly worded explanation that lack of image writing and Send to OneNote are missing "by design."  Another is that in searching the Office and Vista 64 websites, one can’t know what features will be missing, or what one sacrifices in choosing the 32-bit operating system on 64-bit machine.  There simply aren’t coherent answers available in the very places one would expect to find them.  

    But I’ll also congratulate you and your team on OneNote, and mention that I look forward to whatever thrills await me in the next generation.  My personal wish list for OneNote is quite short, as after years of using it, I’m still discovering ways to make it more useful and fun.  Few pieces of software have entertained and worked for me as continually as OneNote.  

  3. I am hoping that the search engines will pick up this string for Send to OneNote 64bit, OneNote print

  4. I just got this from Bruce on the OneNote Test team: It’s not optimal, but it does work. I use it here

  5. Nils Kaiser says:

    Hey David,

    I found a way to fully restore the "Send To OneNote" functionality. It involves installing a program called Zan Image Printer.




  6. angrykeyboarder says:

    Can I get a refund on Office 2007?

  7. Dogwood says:

    Hi David,

    What’s the status on this rather serious incompatibility? When is the fix going to be available? I’ve always been rather cynical of MS with regard to unannounced ‘downgrades’ of functionality, but this is a whopper. Almost anyone who uses OneNote, probably a large percentage of Tablet users, makes use of the Send to Onenote feature.

    I’m now in the process of decommissioning and returning a new x64 tablet due entirely to this one problem, as it makes it almost impossible to use Onenote for gathering content and breaks my workflow. I will have lost days of productivity commissioning and now decommissioning a new environment, only to end up right back where I started. MS’s lack of respect for the user experience is a major reason why MS is hated and is losing ground.

    And to be honest, being told that the workaround is to uninstall the OEM OS and install an inferior version of your OS is a bit of a b-slap. Do you actually think it’s acceptable that we’ll need to pay for further upgrades just to restore functionality WE ALREADY PAID FOR?


  8. bethkmi says:

    There may be very few desktop applications that benefit from 64-bit, but if you have over 3gb RAM, which a lot of personal computers take now, you NEED 64-bit OS.

  9. redrock says:

    Oh Please What BS. One note print driver is so complex that MS just has to sell another version of one note. Go suck on a rotten egg you gimp. Adobe can make a print driver for Vista 64 and MS can not.


  10. JonTot says:

    well i’m pretty disappointed that there’s no quick fix for this problem that’s even being planned, but it sounds like you guys have made the right decision.  i’d like to know when the next version of One Note is projected to be released, so that i can be on the lookout and get it as soon as possible.  While I’m here, I’ll give a few other comments and questions I have.  First I’ll say that on the whole i’ve been very pleased with One note.  I haven’t been using itfor long, but plan on using it for all my university note taking.  I was only slightly disappointed that the GUI was not also switched to ribbon in the 2007 edition; are you planning that for the next edition?  I find I’m one of the only people around that actually prefers the ribbon interface.  Also, I’d really like to see OLE (Object Linking and Embedding, which, for those of you that don’t know, is what enables the "insert object" option in several Office versions)support in one note, so that "insert object" becomes available.  lastly, I’d like to see support for MathType, the professional version of the Office 2003 equation editor (that got butchered in 2007), possibly a MathType plugin, like those availabel for powerpoint and word.  I am a math student, so having equations in my notes are a definite necessity. On the whole, good job guys, and i hope to see many improvements in the next edition.  Again, my biggest questions are: when is the next edition projected for release?, can we expect to see one note in the ribbon layout?, can we expect to find OLE support for one note? and what about a MathType plugin? (or does that have to be made by MathType people?)

  11. Short version: I have a solution for those of you needing a 64 bit OS solution for printing to OneNote.

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