Features

Electronic legal pad

National | Microsoft wants to change the way people take notes.

Issue: "Truth or CAIR," March 22, 2003

Microsoft wants to change the way people take notes. New software called OneNote is the electronic equivalent of a yellow legal pad, allowing users to jot down ideas and arrange them as they wish.

The software, boasts Microsoft, has the flexibility of paper and the efficiency of silicon. OneNote allows users to type or write notes by hand with search and organizing functions. Engineers designed it to reduce the need for copying notes from paper to PC. The software (written for Windows XP) recognizes both normal typing and handwriting on Tablet PCs.

OneNote stores entries in virtual notebooks that are fully searchable. To arrange notes, users click on tabs instead of flipping pages. They can also pass notes via e-mail.

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The program also stores pictures and sound recorded with the computer's microphone. Another feature called QuickNote is Microsoft's answer to Post-Its, so users can jot down ideas while doing other things.

This new program isn't a word processor, however. It is supposed to do one thing well: take notes. OneNote debuts this summer as a companion to Microsoft Word and may be bundled with Office 2003. The company has not set a price yet. Analysts expect businesses to start using it as they upgrade their software over the next two years.

OneNote may fuel sales of Microsoft's new Tablet PC design, which lets users write on the screen with a stylus. To succeed, it must win over critics, who say that the company's productivity programs like Word, Excel, and Outlook are too complicated and slow to be effective.

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