Software

Microsoft is sunsetting OneNote 2016: Here's what that means for professionals

OneNote 2016 has been shifted into maintenance mode, and Microsoft is pushing users toward OneNote for Windows 10. That may entail some growing pains, but it isn't as big a deal as it seems.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft is making the Windows 10 version of OneNote the new default version of the app, with OneNote 2016 set to become an optional version.
  • OneNote 2016 will not be getting any new features but will be supported until 2025. OneNote 2016 users should plan to migrate and should use feedback channels to tell Microsoft what features they want to see in the new version.

Microsoft has formally announced that the end is in sight for OneNote 2016. It's now in maintenance mode, and will still receive essential security updates, but no new features are planned.

OneNote for Windows 10, the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version, will also become the default version installed with Office 365 and Office 2019. OneNote 2016 will still be available for install, but it's now an optional item.

The move makes sense for Microsoft, as until now it has been forced to split development between OneNote 2016 and OneNote for Windows 10.

The change may go unnoticed by many, including those who already use the latest version of OneNote. Those still on 2016 will need to plan a migration, but OneNote 2016 support will continue for several years.

How OneNote's consolidation will affect users

If you're a OneNote user who relies on some of the features of 2016 don't worry—it will be supported for the whole of Office 2016's lifecycle. That means it leaves mainstream support on October 13, 2020, and extended support on October 14, 2025. In short, it's going to be around for a while.

Microsoft isn't even going to push users to switch to the Windows 10 version of OneNote—when updates to Office are installed it will first check to see if 2016 is present, and if so it will leave it be.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

The biggest concern most OneNote 2016 users likely have is the loss of features when migrating to the Windows 10 version. Microsoft said it has added over 100 OneNote 2016 features to OneNote for Windows 10, but there are still several that are missing: video recording, adding Outlook Tasks to notes, local note storage, and third-party addons are just a few of the features only available in OneNote 2016.

Microsoft is basing its new OneNote features primarily on user feedback and plans to add note tagging, Office document previewing, and Class Notebook features to the latest version of OneNote this summer.

Migration of other features to OneNote for Windows 10 hasn't been announced, but Microsoft encourages users to install the Feedback Hub app from the Windows Store to request specific features for migration.

With seven years before support for OneNote 2016 completely ends, there's no urgent need for migrating to OneNote for Windows 10. Anyone who relies on certain features should comment early and comment often—2025 will be here before you know it. You wouldn't want to miss out on new features that come to OneNote for Windows 10, and not 2016, either.

Also see

Image: Microsoft

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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