Microsoft Makes OneNote UWP Standard in Office 2019 for Windows

The desktop version of OneNote takes a backseat to the UWP version of the app when Office 2019 for Windows ships later this year.

Microsoft OneNote UWP

Microsoft is replacing the OneNote desktop app in this year's upcoming release of Office 2019 for Windows with the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) version as the default OneNote installation, the company announced on April 18.

Currently, there are two versions of the note-taking app available to Windows users. OneNote 2016 is the traditional desktop version and OneNote for Windows 10 is the modern UWP variant, which can be downloaded and installed using the Microsoft Store.

As to why Microsoft is favoring one version over the other for Office 2019, Mike Tholfsen, principal product manager of OneNote and Education at Microsoft, argued that the UWP version provides the best experience on Windows.

"The app has improved performance and reliability, and it's powered by a brand new sync engine (which we're also bringing to web, Mac, iOS, and Android)," Tholfsen stated in an announcement. Generally, the technology distributes changes made on OneNote pages to other devices within seconds and can automatically fixes synchronization errors and page corruptions in the background.

"You don't need to worry about being on the latest version since it's always up-to-date via the Microsoft Store, and it lets us deliver updates faster than ever before," continued Tholfsen.

The feature gap between OneNote 2016 and OneNote for Windows 10 has also narrowed, he noted. In the past year and a half, Microsoft ported more than 100 features from the desktop version. Microsoft is also working to add other OneNote 2016 features.

In the summer, OneNote for Windows 10 will inherit the desktop software's ability to insert and search for tags, Tholfsen revealed. In shared notebooks, tags will be synchronized across multiple users, eliminating the need for users to recreate their own.

The app will also generate live previews of Office files and allow users to edit files that are attached to OneNote pages. Furthermore, Microsoft is adding a dictation feature that turns spoken audio into text.

Educators who rely on OneNote 2016 to manage their classrooms aren't being left behind.

School-themed add-ons such as Class Notebooks, Learning Tools and Forms, among others, have already been built into the UWP app, Tholfsen noted. Arriving in time for the 2018 back-to-school season, Microsoft plans to port the remaining OneNote Class Notebook feature set, including Undo Page Distribution, Undo Page Distribution and more, he said.

There are still many features in the UWP version that are missing in OneNote 2016. For example, OneNote for Windows 10 can use voice commands to tell Cortana to take notes or use a PC camera as a document scanner or whiteboard capture tool. However, some features, including video recording, remain exclusive to OneNote 2016.

Microsoft has effectively stopped adding new features to OneNote 2016, although Office 2019 users will still be able to download and use the older desktop software. The company plans to support the software through the next two school years. This includes bug fixes, security patches and customer support. 

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...