Ask @WinObs: What’s Happening with the OneNote Desktop Version?

Richard Hay

Q. I heard that Microsoft is going to discontinue the desktop version of OneNote! Is this true? If so, what will take its place?

You did hear correctly. This announcement was made within the last 24 hours by OneNote Program Manager William Devereux. He confirmed that active development of new features and capabilities is ending for OneNote 2016.

This was the last version of OneNote built for the standard Windows desktop.  It is compatible with the currently supported versions of Windows (7, 8.1, and 10.)  Later this year, when Office 2019is released as the last stand alone version of Office, there will not be a desktop version of OneNote included.

However, there are still options for those of you who are fans of OneNote 2016 on the desktop.

According to an FAQ posted by the OneNote team, this announcement does not mean the end of OneNote 2016 is imminent.

  • OneNote 2016 will be under mainstream support until October 13, 2020, and extended support until October 14, 2025. You’ve got a little over seven years left with this product as-is.
  • Installing Office 2019 when it is released later this year will not remove OneNote 2016 from your system.
  • OneNote for Windows 10, a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app available for free with Windows 10, will be installed by default with Office 2019. If you have previously used OneNote 2016 then you can continue to do so with Office 2019. However, if you have never used OneNote before installing Office 2019, you will be directed towards the OneNote for Windows 10 UWP app.
  • More details will be provided closer to the release of Office 2019 on how you can download and use OneNote 2016 with Office 2019 or Office 365.

Ultimately, since it is the only version being actively developed, the OneNote team would like to see you move to the OneNote for Windows 10 UWP app. It is included for free with every copy of Windows 10 and syncs your notebooks across any Windows 10 device that uses your Microsoft Account.

(I have been using the OneNote for Windows 10 UWP app since it was first released, and I must say, it is one of the most powerful UWP apps in the Microsoft Store.)

According to Devereux, more than 100 popular features from OneNote 2016 have made their way into the UWP version over the last 18 months, and team plans to continue that development. There are also versions of OneNote that you can use on Android, iOS, Mac, and even access your notebooks via the web. Easy, quick, and convenient access to your notes anywhere at any time.

The bottom line is that OneNote 2016 fans still have seven years to use their favorite version of the program. And if you have never tried OneNote and are curious about its capabilities, then head into the Windows 10 Microsoft Store and make sure the OneNote for Windows 10 app is installed and get started using the service. You will be amazed at what you can do to go paperless these days.

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Richard Hay

About Richard Hay

Richard, a 30-year Navy veteran, has been watching and writing about tech for over two decades. He is a Microsoft MVP and senior contributing editor at Penton's SuperSite for Windows.