Microsoft OneNote for Windows 8.1

Microsoft delivers – OneNote and Xbox music

If you do not use OneNote, you really should! It would have been very useful when I did my DPhil, much more so than the Psion Series 5 MX I used to make notes with. The free OneNote apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone are brilliant. The OneNote 2013 desktop app which is included in Office 365 is even more so, and the Onetastic plugins makes it positively coruscating. OneNote for Android has gone from strength to strength especially since its major upgrade four months ago and, as the screenshots below demonstrate, make a mockery of most of the competition, not least the poo-flecked pants that is Google Keep. As for where Apple may be in this arena – they certainly do not shout about it if they are – I could not care a jot.

 

OneNote on OS X, the petrified fossil of desktop operating systems, is no worse than its Android and iOS siblings. Is it not nice of Microsoft to give this perennially unchanging operating system – a grid of icons on a desktop metaphor in 2015? Honestly, you have got to laugh, cry or plead with their users to hope they finally realise that they cannot continue living with the same UX they had in the 1990s and avoid change forever – a modern, smartly designed piece of software? It is free too!

Office Lens on Windows Phone

Apple may still pocket 96% of all the profits in the smartphone market, but that is no reason for you not to profit from Microsoft’s loss by reaping the benefits of using Windows Phone 8.1, in our humble opinion the stand-out best smartphone operating system. One of the things that makes Windows Phone  stand out is the excellent Office Lens app. It scans images you take and saves them as OneNote pages (in any notebook you wish store them in), and also recognises any text in the image, making it searchable in OneNote on any platform. In a recent update Microsoft also introduced the ability to save these text-recognised files to PDF, Word and PowerPoint formats that even a simpleton will be able to stare at, scrawl upon and strew about senselessly. It works very well.

Xbox Music comes of age

Finally, Microsoft are preparing a much needed upgrade, or rather a complete overhaul, of their currently quirky Xbox Music (née Zune) service. Very soon, we are told, one will be able to upload your personal music collection to OneDrive and stream it via Xbox music on any platform – without even paying a rusty old penny. Suddenly, at least when it comes the ability to upload and play your own music, Xbox Music has caught up with and overtaken Google Play Music. With OneDrive’s soon to be unlimited storage for Office 365 subscribers this is a huge boon for anyone with a music collection be it select and tiny or, as ours is, both select and gargantuan; making all your music collection accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.

Sadly this will not help us as we wait for trains in Winchester. The surrounding collection of macrobiotic-noshing, punishment-grade muesli-reeking, quack holistic-faith healers and other assorted electricity-fearing nut jobs clustered in that area have so far prevented there from being any mobile internet reception in the vicinity of our local station. The bastards.

One final note, with the furious cross-platform activity in all other Microsoft services and products, it seems likely that Xbox Music and its Music Pass subscription service will also make a heroic bid for freedom from the confines of the Windows/Xbox ecosystem and that Microsoft will at long last deliver more than a sorry excuse of an app for iOS and Android to go with it.

We bet that this may happen sooner rather than later. If so, Microsoft will at long last have a truly compelling music streaming product not just on Windows and Xbox, but also on Android, iOS and OS X. This would be music to my ears, even more so if Microsoft finally make the mental leap of ditching DRM, which would enable them to get into bed with Sonos – the intelligent person’s choice of wireless music system. This might not sound so sweet to Google or Apple executives, such as Dr. Dre. It might give them a pounding headache, worse than listening to Dr. Dre on any Beats Audio “enhanced” audio system.


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