Microsoft's OneNote strategy: Battle Evernote, or something bigger?

Redmond launches note-taking software for OS X, gives away that and Windows desktop version

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He also speculated that Microsoft would use the free OneNote on the Mac as a carrot to tempt customers to try Office for OS X, a daunting task when new Mac owners now get Apple's iWork suite for free. "It could be a great lead-in to people who are not yet Evernote customers, or not frequent Office users," Miller said.

Today, he elaborated on Twitter. "[The non-commercial license for OneNote] makes me think we could see a business version of OneNote inside Office for Mac 2014 (or at least the Office 365 equiv[alent])," Miller tweeted.

Last week, Microsoft said it would launch the next version of Office for OS X in the second half of this year; by past practice, that would likely be labeled "Office for Mac 2015," as the company usually slaps the next year's date on an edition that launches in the last six months of a calendar year.

Rubin, however, didn't see this as a direct punch at Evernote, whose 80 million users -- the number the company cited Monday -- are a drop in the bucket compared to the one-billion-plus customer pool of Office. Instead, he viewed the freeing of OneNote as part of a broader strategy.

"Much as with cloud storage, this is an ecosystem play," said Rubin. "The digital notes we take are an important component of the information we need around us, and can be a source of insight in helping to fuel more proactive services."

By "ecosystem" Rubin wasn't referring only to Office, or to a turf fight against encroachment, but to the full range of Microsoft's devices, software and services.

"If OneNote has good future integration with Cortana [for example], you may be more swayed to purchase a Windows Phone down the road," Rubin said, referring to the Siri- and Google Now-like personal assistant rumored to be coming next month as part of an update to Windows Phone 8.

OneNote for OS X can be downloaded from the Mac App Store -- the e-mart Apple operates for its own and third-party software -- while the free version of OneNote 2013 for Windows' desktop can be obtained from Microsoft's website.

To use OneNote, users must have a Microsoft Account. OneNote data is automatically saved to Microsoft's cloud-based storage service, OneDrive.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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