OneNote Web App, cloud sync of notes, and Ribbon Hero for OneNote

Three great things are newly available.

The first is that the web version of OneNote is now available to the public. Here's the official blog post. This is something I've been waiting a long time for, and it nicely solves a few problems:

  • When you want to use OneNote's multi-user collaboration capabilities with a friend who doesn't have OneNote, that's not an issue. Either or both of you can use the web app or the rich client, see each other's edits as they're made and generally get down to work with no hassle. Of course you can work with a large group of friends as well - you're not limited to two. Great for class projects, or virtual teams at work.
  • If you need to check your notes for a piece of info and don't have your PC handy, you can access all your notes (the ones stored in Skydrive) via a browser on a friend's PC or some phones (via the browser).

The second great thing is related, but may be subtle and lost in all the discussion of the web app. As great as the idea of a web app is, the full "rich client" version of OneNote 2010 is a far better experience for extended work. But one thing has been hard to make work for many people until now: keeping notes in sync across more than one PC. For example, I have notebooks I need to use on two work PCs (one laptop, one desktop), as well as my home PC. I also share a notebook with my wife and she has two PCs. Before Skydrive, keeping these notebooks up to date across all these machines needed a service such as Live Mesh or Live Sync. But these solutions don’t work well if you modify files in two locations when not connected to the internet, and other glitches.

With Skydrive, you just place the notebooks on SkyDrive, open them from every machine, and you are done. You get the full feature set and ease of use of the "rich" OneNote application, plus offline access (work literally everywhere including airplanes and "the cabin"), plus automatic syncing of changes made by multiple users across machines, *without* any of the glitches that can arise when using a sync service. It just works. This is the same benefit users of OneNote inside organizations with file shares or SharePoint servers have always had, but now Skydrive provides the "anywhere" access.

Third, (and with this I get to tie together my old job and my new job), Office Labs has just released an update to the Ribbon Hero game which adds support for OneNote 2007 and 2010. So if you feel that Office (and especially OneNote!)  must have a lot of capability that you don’t have the time or inclination to discover and learn, try playing Ribbon Hero and have fun picking up some "wow-that's-so-useful-I-didn't-know-it-could-do-that" sort of tips - in just a few minutes. Note for 2010 beta users: Ribbon Hero works with the beta versions of Word/Excel/PowerPoint 2010, but with the final code coming on the market now and a free 2010 trial download available, we decided to make the new OneNote support work only with the final version of OneNote 2010. So ditch the beta and get the free trial!