Way back in August 2021, Microsoft promised that OneNote on Windows 10 and Windows 11 will be receiving a series of major feature updates over the next several months as part of the tech giant’s efforts to unify multiple versions of the note-taking app into a single client.
OneNote has seen numerous changes in the past few years. In 2018, when Microsoft really wanted people to use its UWP version of OneNote, the company stopped bundling the original and feature-rich version of OneNote with the pre-installed Office apps. Instead, Microsoft offered the UWP client and added new features to the modern version only.
Microsoft later reversed its decision and started pushing new features to the Win32 client as well. Users who prefer features over the UWP nature and design of the app were upset with Microsoft’s treatment of the Win32 client and that convinced the firm to start bundling the Win32 version in Office 2019 or 365 once again.
As a result, we have two apps for OneNote – the original Win32 version is called just ‘OneNote’ and the UWP version uses ‘OneNote for Windows 10’ branding instead. Neither the Win32 version nor the UWP has seen significant development in the past several months as the firm struggles to maintain both apps.
Microsoft has finally given up on the UWP version of OneNote and it’s combining the best of both apps to update the existing Win32 version with new features and design.
New OneNote is now rolling out!
Over the weekend, Microsoft quietly started pushing the early bits of the new OneNote design to users enrolled in the beta program.
A Microsoft official has confirmed to us that the update is now rolling out to those in Office Insider Program’s Beta Channel.
The update offers a new navigational UI layout for the sidebar as well as a visual refresh to bring it in line with Windows 11’s design.
The new sidebar exposes all sections and notebooks by default and syncing has been massively improved. The app also feels snappy and rounded corners are now visible across the app. Likewise, OneNote Win32 now supports Ruler on touch-enabled devices, a feature that was previously exclusive to ‘OneNote (UWP) for Windows 10’.
Aside from these improvements, there’s no sign of touch and pen and other features that are currently part of the UWP version.
It is worth noting that Microsoft is still working on the redesign and screenshots published last year seem to indicate that more design changes are on the way. This will happen over the course of the next several weeks and Microsoft will also add touch and design features that are currently part of the Office suite.
Once the Win32 version of OneNote receives all UWP features and is usable on touch-enabled devices, those on the UWP version will start receiving in-app invitations to switch to the new OneNote app. Eventually, the firm plans to replace ‘OneNote for Windows 10’ with redesigned OneNote (Win32) in the Store and other places.
The unified app will be familiar to users of both apps and it will be free, which means it will not be tied to any specific subscriptions.