It's a funny time of year. We're approaching our first beta of Office12 and OneNote12 in the next few months (no news here - just standard procedure). My mind is all full of this new release of software, but I am not able to speak about it publicly. That makes it pretty hard to blog on our current products since to me they are nearly prehistoric. They are of course still as great as they were when we shipped them, but now my head is filled with what is to come and I am bursting to talk about it with all the people who have been asking for updates and features and fixes to our current release.

So I thought I would share some of the pain with you all. I will tease you with the fact that I know what we are doing, and it rocks, and you won’t be able to know until later on. Nyah. OK, done. Now your expectations are sky-high and we'll never be able to meet them.

Last week we hosted a big event for a few hundred customers and partners to show them Office12 and get feedback on our plans and designs. Of course I can't talk about that event either, but a few attendees blogged a little about it despite their NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). They didn't say all that much in the blog posts, except to agree with us that Office12 will indeed rock. I heard lots of comments like "revolutionary", "amazing", "definitely interesting business value", and even "Office has finally caught up with the rest of the company" (ouch!). Anyway the fact that we were able to share our work with a few people even in secret was some relief to the anticipation, but now it is even harder not to talk about it for a little longer.

Just so there is some content value to this post, I thought I would mention a little applet called InkyBoard:

Among other things, Inkyboard is a way to get ink from Journal to OneNote without having it convert to an image. You can copy ink from Journal, paste it into InkyBoard, then use the Send to OneNote feature of InkyBoard to push the ink into OneNote. This preserves your ink as ink, since although OneNote doesn't accept Ink as a paste format, the import API we have does accept Ink. InkyBoard also has a few other nice features to recommend it - check it out. Note that if you run into a problem sending to OneNote, you may need to create the "C:\temp" directory on your machine if it does not currently exist since InkyBoard assumes it does.

I also thought I would put in a plug for my favourite "small" feature in OneNote: screen clipping. If you haven’t tried this yet, you are in for a treat. Find a web page you want to preserve, such as a travel itinerary. Right-click on the little OneNote icon in the system tray, and choose "Create Screen Clipping". The screen will fade somewhat to show you that you are in "capture mode". Drag out a rectangle that you want to keep. When you are done a screen capture of the rectangle you grabbed is dropped into OneNote (and also placed on the clipboard, so you can immediately paste it somewhere). You can also use Windows-S (thanks for the reminder Dan!).

There are some options you can set for screen clipping (also accessible via right-click on the system tray icon). Some power users like to switch the default to be "Copy to Clipboard Only" - that way they can paste the image exactly where they want and not have it appear in OneNote's side notes section. You can also use Screen Clipping from the Insert menu in OneNote. The advantage of that approach is that you can put yourself on the page you want to insert the clipping onto, then use the command (OneNote automatically hides itself so you can grab what's behind). When you clip from web pages shown in IE, IE provides us the URL of the page so if you are allowing OneNote to automatically paste the clipping into Side Notes, then we can also fetch the URL and paste it too.

Screen Clipping starts to become second nature once you begin using it. It is remarkable how often I just want to grab exactly what is on the screen, regardless of format: even UI of applications, which can’t be grabbed any other way.

One last mention: my boss's boss, Steven Sinofsky, the numero uno senior VP of the extended Office group has a blog now: He is really passionate about students and job hunting, so check it out if you are interested in his insights on that. And he really has good insights since he has been through a lot - he can explain why the press build up the "cool factor" of certain companies and help you spot the reality that lies behind a lot of the PR you get exposed to as companies try to woo you to work for them.