Microsoft reveals the future of OneNote and it's all about Fluid and desktop

Microsoft is today detailing its plans for its popular OneNote app. The software giant reversed the course and brought its OneNote 2016 desktop app to life earlier this week, with a new dark mode and extensive support. Microsoft has much deeper plans for this desktop app, and in general OneNote.


"We literally put all of our modern code back into the old 2016 code base to create a uniform single code base from which we can send and deliver OneNote," explains Ben Hodes, product manager at OneNote, to a Microsoft Ignite session today. "The reason why we do this modern merger is to go back to a single code base and deliver these functions for the next year and a half."

The new functions include:

  • Modern synchronization services to synchronize notebooks faster
  • @ listings for OneNote within Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Search integration to find the information in your notes
  • New functions for meeting notes
  • Tasks and tasks integration
  • Improvements in accessibility
  • Canvas of the next generation

The support for @ listings is coming in the first half of next year and Microsoft has also been working on integration with tasks that should arrive at some point next year. The improvements in Microsoft's notes for OneNote are not yet very clear, but Hodes revealed: "There are many great features that we can do to improve that experience."

Support for OneNote 2016 in the dark mode

The other major part of this new codebase is the switch from Microsoft to the new Fluid Framework. Microsoft has big plans with Fluid to boost the future of Office collaboration experiences on the web. Fluid has also been designed as a newly composed document model to which AI and other services can be connected.

"We are working very closely with the Fluid engineering team to help develop the Fluid Framework and that we will debut a preview of what OneNote in Fluid will look like together and what they are capable of together," Hodes explained. Liquid will also appear in Teams next year, e-mail in Outlook and various documents in Office.

So what does this mean for the individual OneNote for Windows 10 app? Hodes did not reveal exactly what Microsoft is planning, but Mike Tholfsen, a Microsoft product manager, says "There will still be a Desktop and a separate Windows 10 app." It's hard to imagine that two OneNote apps will exist to confuse Windows 10 users, but Microsoft still has two Skype apps. It is much more likely that Microsoft will postpone the development of this special version at some point, as the company will default to installing OneNote 2016 with Office 365 installations in March.


Microsoft experimented with universal Office apps for Windows 10, but the company postponed these apps last year. “We currently prioritize development for the iOS and Android versions of our apps; and on Windows we give priority to Win32 and web versions of our apps, "said a Microsoft spokesperson at the time.

OneNote was the exception, but Microsoft is bringing OneNote 2016 to life and has big plans to merge all its work on the Windows 10 version with the old software, so the focus seems to be once again on the desktop version of OneNote. We have contacted Microsoft to clarify the plans for the OneNote Windows 10 app and we will update you accordingly.