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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Notebook of a different

Not all good products are popular; many are under-rated, under-utilized. Microsoft OneNote, for example -- a store-room where you can put everything from random notes and documents to photos and videos; and even audio and video clips. Contents can be backed up online, organised and searched.

This eight-year old product is quite user-friendly after many revisions; and comes with Microsoft Office suite. There are many reasons why this is such an excellent tool for anyone who handles large volumes of data of various forms.

Write anywhere
OneNote is like a real notebook. You open a page, click anywhere and type or draw anywhere on the page! You can’t do that on your MS Word or Notepad or on the email. Also, what you have scribbled, can be clicked and moved to another place on the same page! You can insert photos, tables, screenshots, links, symbols, mathematical equations, time and date stamps; and attach web-links and files of any form.

The best part -- use OneNote as a tape recorder or video recorder to capture a song, speech or conversation. New notes are linked to the time the audio or video recording was done. The recording can be fast-forwarded or rewound 10 seconds or 10 minutes.

Within one page, new sections can be opened. The page or the section or the notebook can be saved on the web, on a network or on the PC, and set to private or public. Pages can be shared with others, who can review or edit the contents, a handy option in collaborative projects; and multiple versions of editing can be viewed. Pages are saved online on Microsoft Skydrive, which can be accessed using the Hotmail or Messenger or XBox Live password. The Hotmail homepage displays the Skydrive link.

Evernote & Google Docs

There are similar products. Evernote came after OneNote, and has similar features, and caught on well, mainly because it’s easily accessible across devices and platforms. The big advantage of OneNote is, it comes with MS Office and can be accessed with Hotmail account. Another product is Google Doc, which can be accessed with Gmail password. But its use is limited to creating documents, presentations, speadsheets, drawings and tables, and sharing them to view and edit in collaborative projects.

In January, Microsoft launched a OneNote app for iOs, but we are yet to see one for Android, which Evernote has. Seeing the Android popularity, it wouldn’t be long before Microsoft has one for it.

(This article was published in The Times of India, Bangalore, today)

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