Microsoft begins testing Windows 11’s new design for OneNote

OneNote redesign on Windows 11

A teaser of new Word for Windows 11, OneNote redesign could
be similar

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.

OneNote for Windows 11 UI

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.

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