My first steps with Onenote


Summary: Little things count. If you make a time limited test version, don’t piss me of by demanding a direct internet registration to unlock the beta! Things like this will just speed up the process of me joining the lines of Open Source development – even on my beloved applications.

Tag(s): , , , , , , , , , , ,

As new tablet owner, I of course am looking into software to make my life easier. Onenote and Evernote are both mentioned as ‘the’ applications for using your tablet instead of dozens of postits.

While Evernote does have a free version, I have to admit, that I am not into the way it presents notes. So I thought I would give Onenote a quick look, even thought it costs some money. Well, if it really helps me getting organized, it is worth the money. Besides, the inked enabled version of Evernote does cost money too.

So I did get my key from Microsoft for my test download, downloaded it and installed it on the tablet. It took me about 40 seconds to get highly disappointed with this software (if you would like to compare it: I am still angry about that education pack thing, but this is just plain annoying). Why 40 seconds?

Because that is about the time it took me from starting the software, to going through the first steps of the flash based tutorial (getting bored with that after 30 seconds, yeah, will look into that later, want to do notes now!) to see a message, that I have to activate my trial version – which I already had to get a key for and pay with my email address.

Which means nothing else then ‘we want to check who installed and used my software’. As my fritzbox is not up and running, I don’t have any net connectivity of my tablet at the moment and I though “it says it won’t work with all features, but that is okay, I can active it later, it will not be that critical’.

Me naive thing. The 38th second ended, when I was eager just to jot something down to find – nothing happening. I was expecting to be able just to start as in journal just to paint my notes. From what I figure from my quick looking around and testing, it seems to me, that I can’t use ink in Onenote testing without activation? Please tell me, that I overlooked something?

Taking a look at the available possibilities which are not greyed out, I am highly set back. We are talking about a 60 day version of Onenote, which wants a registration and sends out who knows what as data, just to be able to use a time limited software? Are you kidding me?

As it seems now, I will only have 55 days for testing, because from what it looks now, I don’t see it happen for me to have my internet access of my tablet running in the next days.

Which sets me off for different reasons. If they make such an effort to not allow me to experience this test software, I have to wonder what they will send out back to Redmond from my PC. And second, what if I don’t have an internet access on my machine at all? I can’t test this test version. Even if I am to ‘activate’ it, it leaves me wondering, what kind of control they think they will get of me and my data.

And to be honest: The more they try to get to my data (of course, everything only for my own good!) like

  • protect me from pirated software (thanks, I know where I bought mine)
  • making sure it is still my copy (ooh! I forgot that I might have installed a new version!)
  • demand of me to activate my hardware combination (what do they need that for again?)
  • having basic featured locked out of a TESTVERSION unless I give them what data

(and everything under very ‘interesting’ U.S. laws) I only can imagine, they think of me of something they have control over.

Let’s see: They want my email address and name. They want this version activated. It is likely that I will install my bought version over it if I buy it. Which probably also wants to be ‘activated’ – and is easily trackable then too. As this version is connected with my name and my email address, other things on my computer are tied into that as well.

But of course, nobody has plans for exploiting that and all your data belongs to^w^w is safe with us. Would you like direct access to my bank account too, so you don’t have to bother with me still hanging onto the Office 2000 and just collect the money from me? How about I visit you (on my own cost of course) and give you a full body scan, finger prints and whatever else?

Hello McFly? This is me, these are my data, this is my computer. I am in control and even though you do not seem to like it, I am way to smart for you and aware of what you are doing. Yes, you can try and sell me the DRM in Vista as improvement, and it may be improvement to someone – but not to me.

Seeing the development of the OS and the Office software especially over the last decade (I am in contact with MS products since nearly 20 years now), especially regarding my interests versus Hollywood and other interests, MS is loosing me. Big time. And I am a ‘fan girl’.

Just to give you one example: I absolutely hate the keyboard settings of Open Office and it drives me nuts to use it. Go on with those ‘enhancements’ instead of real functionality and I will personally create the correct keyboard shortcut map like in Excel. And switch to it.

I am giving seminars from time to time, due to my tight schedule not as often as I would like to do. It is Powerpoint and Excel for small biz owners at the moment. They use the functions which have been available oh since Office 97. Go on with your “Activiation is good for you!” and I will translate the sheets of my seminar to “How to be successfull in your business with Open Office” without any regret.

Activating Windows, restricting display only to ‘certified allowed’ monitors, introduced in Vista and through the backdoor of updates also in Windows XP? Hello Lindows, hello KDE.

As you can guess from my Excel statement above, KDE and the other applications tick me off also – not efficient keyboard support, lack of consistent UI, inconsistent throughout applications, etc, etc. Guess what I have been doing for a decade also now: Testing the UI of a software and giving feedback. Bugging the authors to implement those changes. Marking inconsistencies. Given, I come from a very special angle on those testings of mine, but most of the time, people come back to me and ask me to do more testing once they go over the shock of what I told them I did not like.

Combine my (already built up) frustration about those little things like that one above with Onenote on a bigger scale, which a deep knowledge and understanding of how the main Office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) work from a users perspective, which function they need and how they expect it to be delivered if they come from Microsoft Office.

Not today, maybe not next year but after that, I am farely sure, that I will be out there and help Open Source developers make their applications so people can use them.
Without activation on basic features, without having to pay much money, without having to take being treated as a dumb customer and a pirate.

Will I activate Onenote? Probably. Will I buy it? Also, as it seems from a quick look this could be a helpful application at the moment. Will I show that off to other people? Yes. Will I encourage them to buy it too? Maybe to yes.

Will I make sure, that they also get to hear my opinion about Microsoft treating me (and them) as thiefs, as dumb customers who will like sheep just deliver their data and not think about it for one second? And what I think of that? Of course I will.

This is a game, and not a one sided one. Will it matter what I think of this? Judge yourself. Over the last years I would estimate that I had some hundred clients asking me for advice of which software to use. I say, they buy (if they can afford it.) I am what I call a multiplier. Not on a big scale of course, but still.

At the moment I am strongly considering going more into the consulting business, which unfortunatly I have not enough time for at the moment. Which would mean more clients, of whom some will ask me about “what software to buy, which os to use, which office software”.

And why all that? Because of a small thing like “you need to activate this 60 day limited test version of Onenote, before you can lay your hand onto the whole functionality of this software. Which you are likely to buy anyway. And the main feature why you probably installed this software for testing, aka the ink feature, well, you will only get this when you activate too.”.

Even is I missed the point where I can do ink with this software without activating it, I don’t care.

I had a pile of notes I wanted to put into this software this afternoon, which still lie on my desk.

Because I was eager to test out this software, happy with joy, but had no internet connection.

Little things count. And they do sum up to very big sums …

Tags: , ,

7 Responses to “My first steps with Onenote”

  1. Hi Nicole. I’m sorry you had such a problem with the OneNote trial. I am curious how you were able to download the trial, yet unable to activate it over the internet? For most people this just takes a few seconds. Did you lose your internet connection immediately after downloading the trial? Or some other problem?

    FWIW, Activation does not require your name or email address. The privacy policy details that explain all this are provided in a link in the activation dialog. If you buy the full version, you just have to type your product key into the trial installation and it will become a full installation – no need to install over it. If you like, visit my blog for tips on how to get the most out of OneNote.

  2. Nicole Simon says:

    Chris, I hate to break it to you, but using different computers for download and install is quite common – especially when you have a new tablet and no wireless connection, because you expand your computer network at home from one to two. And therefore have to figure out out to connect new tablet to the internet.

    Your Onenote was activated standing on a balcony and going into someone elses free wlan … :) And yes, while activation of the *test* version does not require my email address, the requesting did and if there was no reason other than to tie those two together, then I don’t see a reason to give my mail address in the first place.

    Mind, we are not talking full version here – which you are just indicating needs *another* registration.

    And yes, I know about your blog only have not gotten around posting on it – one thing at a time. First I want to write more about uninfluenced impression on a new user on Onenote. ;)

  3. Again, I’m sorry you had such a problem – I haven’t heard of anyone doing what you describe before – usually people have internet connections or they don’t – but nevertheless you had a bad experience so that’s a problem. FWIW, Microsoft uses the term “Activation” to describe the unlocking of the bits you get, however you might get them (there are many other ways besides download, such as receiving a CD with a key attached). Activation does not require anything personally identifiable from you. Of course, in your case, you downloaded the trial, so your email address was used to send you the key, but even then the privacy policy for that site is quite explicit in what will be done with your email address (i.e. nothing except send you the key, unless you tell us otherwise). In OneNote’s case, if you agree to be contacted, we sometime ask you to answer surveys to help us make the product better. These privacy policies are public so that you can read them to know what will be done with your info and don’t have to assume the worst. The people responsible for maintaining your privacy here take it very seriously. “Registration” is a different thing from Activation, and is optional. When you register, you willingly provide your name, email etc so that we can contact you to let you know about updates, invite you to take surveys, and so on as is stated again in whatever location you register.

    When you get a chance I would love to hear any feedback you have on OneNote itself.


  4. Nicole Simon says:

    Chris, please take these comments as “i have installed it and my personal problem on this is over” and let me put on the general feedback mode:

    >I haven’t heard of anyone doing what you describe before

    Then your test case scenarios are not very well set up.

    Second, user experience for a not activated version is just plain stupid; you can do nothing worthwhile, stop pretending you can.

    > and don’t have to assume the worst. The people
    > responsible for maintaining your privacy here take it very seriously

    You might want to brush up your knowledge on differences on what privacy is meaning according to US laws and how the understand of american companies in generell is regarding privacy issues and their European equivilent.

    Combine that with different other scenarios, where you request data from me, combine that with a knowledge what can be done with data mining, and the results you get are not pretty.

    Because the website states in its “Datenschutzbestimmungen” that you use data to make things better for me, make better customer experience – simplified translation.

    Microsoft also thinks, that its upcoming DRM systems in Vista are “improvements” – like for example enforcing DRM systems. To me, they are just another reason to skip Windows at all.

    As for the feedback, yes of course. ;) Any special things you would be interested in?

  5. David Goggin says:

    I have to agree with Nicole about downloading software on a computer with Internet access and installing on another that doesn’t have access. I’ve done that many times as I don’t keep all my home computers linked to the ‘Net. Now that wireless is so cheap, I’m starting to network them all. But that’s a very recent thing.

    Also, from time to time my Internet conenction is broken and I have to rely on old fashioned methods to install (or more typically, re-format and reinstall after a huge melt down) Microsoft software.

    In short, requiring Internet access to use and/or activate a product has often been a huge burden on me in the past. It would be a big improvement in customer relations if Microsoft recognized that as a “normal” end user situation and made it easy to deal with.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Hi, I have a new Tosh M700 tablet pc, first thing i did was save & delete Vista and load up Ubuntu, everything worked from the install except the tablet buttons & fingerprint scanner, It took 30 mins to get the Wacom touchscreen & Screen rotate button on tablet going, from a good Ubuntu Wiki.

    On the wiki they sugested Cell Write which is simiar to onenote, which i can recomend, its quick, stable & very intuitive, gets about 95% of what i write with the pen

    I would also recommend Ubuntu, not as pretty as KDE etc but very well supported. Also get the crossover for linux app from codeweavers, then you can use Office, photoshop etc.

    In three hours I had it all running (its my 3rd Ubuntu install) and there are great chats where ppl will walk you through it.

    Good luck

  7. Eric Baird says:

    Nicole: a few days ago, I had to choose between getting OneNote and EverNote, and I followed the link from the OneNote Wikipedia page to the official OneNote page on the MS site … and the relevant section of page didn’t load.

    Instead, the panel showed a error message that helpfully explained that the site had just tried to run a piece of javascript to scan my computer and find out what software I had installed, and what version of Office I was using, and because my browser had intercepted and blocked the scan, I wasn’t allowed to go any further and view the page.

    In other words, the people at MS who are in charge of selling OneNote seem to be more interested in using it to collect user data than they are in actually selling the program.

    I was seriously considering getting OneNote (if it was good), but if the product’s page is being used to launch spyware, and the people in charge don’t see anything wrong with that, then I’m not going to put all my personal data into the program and trust them not to look through it. I certainly wouldn’t put confidential client data on it.