Microsoft is revamping the old OneNote app for Windows with many of the features that were exclusive to the soon-to-be-discontinued OneNote for Windows 10. More changes are now on the way, especially for drawing and writing with a stylus.
Microsoft is now rolling out OneNote Version 2209 (Build 15427.20000) in the Beta Channel for people enrolled in the Office Insiders testing program. The new version has an overhauled inking experience — even though many of the buttons and controls look the same, Microsoft has rewritten the code “from the ground up.” The company says stylus input is now 85% more responsive, which is a significant improvement, especially when latency is the main downgrade compared to drawing and writing on real paper.
The writing experience has also been improved with “tactile signals,” which generate small vibrations when using a Surface Slim Pen 2 that mimic the feel of a pen on paper. That was previously only available in OneNote for Windows 10, and it also works in OneNote on the web. Sadly, if you have a different stylus or pen, you’re out of luck.
Even though the basic drawing tools haven’t changed, OneNote has made many smaller tweaks. The layout of the ‘Draw’ tab looks more like the menu on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. When you select a pen, a popup will appear with color and thickness options, so you won’t have to open a different menu later. The current settings appear next to your cursor, which should reduce accidental marks.
Microsoft has also brought the Ruler tool from the Windows 10 app to regular OneNote, which is helpful for drawing lines at an angle. Math Assistant is available as well, which the company says can “understand your handwritten equations and guide you through step-by-step solutions.” It was previously only available in OneNote for Windows 10 and the web version.
More improvements are still on the way. Microsoft said in a blog post, “over the next few months, you’ll see further updates to both OneNote on Windows and the web. These will include improvements to ink quality as well as more features, including pencil, ink replay and a new pen focus view.” The company didn’t mention when any of the changes will roll out to everyone with a Microsoft 365 subscription.