The Myth

Myths are fun to believe in and perpetuate. Myths are also amazing in their immortality. But myths suck if you find yourself on the wrong side of them. Working at Microsoft on products like Word you run into a lot of myths which get repeated so often, they become treated as “fact” in the general population. Maybe I’ll talk about some of those someday (like the one where Word changes its file format every release - if people only knew how much we bend over backwards to keep that compatible).

It is sort of like having people start calling you “Bert” and then having them tell everyone they know your name is Bert, and continue to do this despite you telling them and anyone else you meet to their face that your name is Chris, not Bert. After awhile, people start to look at you funny. “My name is Chris, not Bert”. “Oh, are you going to change your name?” “Why are you lying?” “Do you have multiple personality disorder?” They even start to distrust you. But from your perspective you were always Chris, not Bert.

OneNote has one big fat myth. People think we only run on a TabletPC. If you use OneNote, you know how wrong this is. And don’t get me wrong – we run great on Tablets, we love the Tablet, and we built features to take advantage of Tablets. Every time I meet with the press or customers though, I make sure to mention that we are useful on laptops and desktops, as well as Tablets. Yet even after that, and a demo showing the power of OneNote with a keyboard and mouse, people still write that we are only available for TabletPC. Not that we are more useful on a Tablet – we ONLY run on a Tablet. Go figure. At first this was humorous, then annoying. Now though, it can be a big problem for a new business. We just did some internal research that shows the top reason why corporations don’t consider OneNote for deployment in their organization is that they do not have TabletPCs!

There are some reasons for this myth, and they are sort of self-reinforcing. For example, the Tablet was launched around the same time OneNote was announced. The word “notes” to many people means handwritten things on paper, so they think handwriting, hence Tablet. It is a testament to the power of the Tablet that when I or anyone else on the team does a demo of OneNote, we have to be careful to show all the non-Tablet features first (which people are really excited about), and then just show ink for 30sec at the end. When we didn’t do this, and showed ink first, people just got a glazed, drooling look and tuned out everything except the swoopy lines of ink on the screen. They’d walk away saying “what features”?

So the Tablet is a blessing and a curse – we thank it for making us appealing, but The Myth is killing us. So spread the word: 95% of real-life OneNote users use a laptop or desktop, and 95% of the features do not require a Tablet. Go forth and multiply that!