Tag Archives: Microsoft OneNote

Internet Explorer Euthanasia

Is Microsoft intentionally allowing Internet Explorer to die?

It’s not brand-spanking new as an idea, but that’s the suggestion (I’m guessing the URL; it’s not posted on the website yet) of Dana Blankenhorn, who writes a newsletter called A-Clue.com. In it he writes:

Microsoft is deliberately letting Internet Explorer lose the browser market to Mozilla’s Firefox. Microsoft won’t admit this publicly but it makes sense. The company hasn’t had a major upgrade to the program in years. It was relatively trivial for Mozilla, descended ultimately from Netscape, to match those features, even go slightly beyond them.

Blankenhorn says Microsoft is sick of fixing bugs for software that has no business model. Instead, he says, Microsoft is putting its money into applications like its Media Player. “There are business models that can be built around Media Player. You can sell content through that conduit. Until someone creates a business model around browser dominance Explorer is dead.”

An interesting view. No one is quite sure whether IE is actually dead or dominant. Lance Ulanoff says the former, John Dvorak the latter. In the forums one reader makes an interesting point: You can no longer download a full version of IE anymore from Microsoft’s website. This is presumably because of Microsoft’s decision a year ago not to issue further ‘standalone versions’ of IE after IE SP1.

Although things have changed a bit since then — security is now a priority, for example — I think this is probably where the truth lies. Microsoft may believe that developing a browser for its own sake is a waste of time, so long as you can control the other applications users work in. So if you’re using Microsoft Office, for example, better to keep the user inside one of those programs when they search the Internet by building the Research Pane, a window that has browser like features and functions but keeps the user inside a Microsoft product. If you do that, who needs a browser, or rather, who cares what the user does in a browser?

I’m guessing here, but if I was Microsoft, I wouldn’t care too much about numbers. Who needs to ensure everybody is using IE if all they’re doing is surfing for porn? Better to lock in the high-paying customers who might use online databases, for example, by keeping them in Office, or Outlook, or OneNote, or whatever. This is why I think you’re seeing more and more add-in toolbars for products like Outlook. The less people have to use a browser, the less steps they have to take to get information, and the more control you have over whether they go.

This may be one reason why Google is developing its own browser, if the rumours are true. Google relies on the browser more than any other company and presumably doesn’t want to find its business model made irrelevant for these in-program searches. Google needs eyeballs, and so needs to control the program and context of its users. Blankenhorn may well be right. The browser battle just may not be a battle Microsoft thinks is worth winning, because they see the war has moved elsewhere: to the in-program toolbar or research pane.

Beyond OneNote

Further to my column about OneNote, I’ve heard from one or two people suggesting somewhat similar programs. Here’s a selection:

  • Anju Visen-Singh writes Calgary, Canada, about his company SMART Technologies Inc. Its SMART Board software drives special whiteboards that “connect to a computer and projector to display the computer image on a large touch-sensitive screen for group collaboration”. Users can draw with a special pen or use their finger to write or draw. Words will be converted to text and saved. Anju says a new version of SMART Board software is out in January 2005 “which will have scores of new features requested by our customers”.
  • One reader points to Writer’s Blocks as a possible alternative to those creative types looking to organise information for a book, play or whatever.
  • Then there’s Agilix’s GoBinder which looks vaguely like OneNote and presents itself as “the digital replacement for your old-fashioned three-ring binder that you’ve used to organize all your most important information. GoBinder provides a mobile solution to organize everything in one place–including calendar, tasks, contacts, notes, documents, etc.”

Oh, and for those of you checking out OneNote, don’t forget the powertoys that recently have been released (thanks, Jim, for pointing this out). Read more on the blog of Chris Pratley, one of the key players behind OneNote.

This week’s column – OneNote Wonder

This week’s Loose Wire column is about the new release of OneNote:

THE FOLK AT MICROSOFT aren’t renowned for innovation, but it’s time we took our hats off to them for OneNote. OneNote (www.microsoft.com/onenote) is a note-taking and organizing program that came out last year, and is about to be revamped with a new release due soon. OneNote is a step up for Microsoft in several ways and we, who tend to be somewhat rude about the Redmond crowd, should be big enough to acknowledge it. 

Full text at the Far Eastern Economic Review (subscription required, trial available) or at WSJ.com (subscription required; usually doesn’t appear until Monday. Sorry). Old columns at feer.com here.

(Since the column went to press Microsoft has announced they’re halving the price.)

OneNote’s Price Drop

I’m a fan of Microsoft’s OneNote, but a critical one, and one of my gripes has been the price. Now that’s all changed, according to Microsoft’s Asian PR:

Effective August, Microsoft has announced a price adjustment world wide for OneNote 2003 from US$199 to $99. The price adjustment will begin rolling out today with various retailers offering the new price at different points throughout the month. Volume license customers will also see a discount based on their licensing agreement with Microsoft. Academic pricing thru college bookstores ($49 ERP) and volume license programs will remain the same.

Microsoft is committed to providing the best software for the price. In response to positive customer feedback to the product being offered at $99 in Japan and $99 after $100 mail-in rebate in North America, Microsoft wanted to extend customers worldwide with the opportunity to take advantage of the lower price point.

Too late for my column on OneNote, but good news nonetheless. I felt $200 was just a bit too much for what was effectively a note-taking application.

The Audio Wonder Of OneNote

I’ve been playing with OneNote — the Microsoft program that allows you to create and organise notes — quite a bit lately, and I have to say it’s a big leap forward for software.. and Microsoft’s record for innovation.

Here’s an interesting post on a feature I haven’t explored as yet: audio. Wayne reports that OneNote will add timestamps to your text notes as you record audio, so jumping to a particular note will include an icon shortcut to the corresponding part of the audio.

So, say you’re recording a lecture (or an interview, if you can imagine taking your laptop with you): You’re typing (or writing, with a TabletPC) brief notes about what’s being said, but also recording. Hovering your mouse over the notes afterwards will throw up little icons, matching the same point in the recording. Pretty cool.

One comment pointed out that recording audio on a laptop isn’t great. True. You really need an external mike. And while those folk recording lectures, meetings or seminars in civilized environments (quiet, you can get near the subject, power outlets, tables to park your laptop on) should be ok, this is not going to be particularly helpful for us journalists.

For that I’d recommend Olympus digital recorders. Of course there are others but I’ve had one (well three, actually) since 1999 and they’ve been a godsend. The best trick: use an external microphone on a long cable, keep the recorder close to you and use the yellow index button to mark good quotes. When you upload the file to your computer to transcribe, you can quickly jump to the best bits.

Another option if you’re looking to record lectures with your laptop: LectureRecorder.