OneNote 2016 is back!


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Microsoft stated in 2018 that OneNote 2016 would no longer be actively maintained, and that OneNote for Windows 10 would be the supported version moving forward. Users noted that installs of Office365 reportedly remove OneNote 2016.

Microsoft has since reversed their stance, according to The Verge:

“We are literally merging all of our modern code back into the legacy 2016 codebase to create a unified single codebase that we can ship and deliver OneNote from,” explained Ben Hodes, product manager of OneNote, at a Microsoft Ignite session today. “The reason we’re doing this modern merge is to get back to a single codebase and start to deliver these features in the coming year and a half.”

The new features include:

  • Modern sync services to sync notebooks faster
  • @mentions for OneNote inside of Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Search integration to find the information in your notes
  • New meeting notes features
  • Tasks and To Do integration
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Next-generation canvas
  • Dark Mode

Microsoft had been steering customers to the version of OneNote that ships with Windows 10. It’s a slick Windows application with a pen-friendly UI, but it felt inconsistent. Sometimes, for example, the page list would be hidden, and you’d have to click on the categories list to make it re-appear. Nice to conserve screen real estate, not so intuitive.

OneNote integrates with Outlook’s calendar feature, allowing you to open a new page in OneNote to capture notes. Outlook would open the OneNote 2016 application with a meeting template, but OneNote for Windows 10 would open the web app. I find that I either work with web apps or local Windows apps but don’t like to mix the two. I’d rather use all web apps or all local apps. While it worked at first, Outlook’s built-in support for the OneNote web app seems to be conflicting with the OneNote plug-in. All things point to re-installing OneNote 2016.

Why not move ahead with OneNote for Windows? I spent the better part of the year working with Outlook for Windows 10, but over the past several years I’d become too accustomed to the older interface, which stayed relatively stable through OneNote 2010, 2013 and 2016. My Getting Things Done methodology uses tabs on the top, and I’m used to it that way. Hopefully, we end up with a current code base with a flexible UI that works equally well with desktop apps and web apps.

OneNote 2016 is a free download from Microsoft and can be downloaded from this link.

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