Microsoft OneNote: Free with iOS Support

Microsoft is now offering OneNote for free, and it is supported on iOS devices.

A free Microsoft Office product. Crazy, huh?

Seeing a free product from Microsoft Office product just doesn’t feel right. They are also entering the mobile note-taking market late in the game. We have had iPhones for how many years now? There are probably more mobile note-taking apps than Flappy Bird rip-offs.

I see this as a significant pivot point for Microsoft on two fronts: With one product, Microsoft is both giving something away for free, and also making a transition to attempt to coexist with Apple in the post-PC era. Clearly, Microsoft sees there is still an opportunity to make money in the mobile market, and they plan to get a piece of the mobile-market pie by leveraging Apple users.

Though, I first heard of the announcement through a Doxie scanner newsletter I am subscribed to, and not a technology site I follow on Facebook or in my Twitter feed. I can’t help but wonder if this will be indicative of its success. Compare this subtle entry of a free Microsoft Office product (kind of a big deal) to any software released by Apple in the last five years: We are bombarded by leaks and speculations by the Apple user community in the weeks leading up to a keynote announcement.

Any reader of this site knows I’m an advocate of the iPhone. I had an iPhone 4, and upgraded to an iPhone 5S, but I have never owned any other Apple devices. My personal laptop is running Windows 7, and my laptop and desktop at work both run Windows 7, too. But, from the consumer point of view, I am an Apple user. At home, I have been using OpenOffice for almost five years ago now, so I may be one of the few people left who do not have a Microsoft account.

Microsoft OneNote for free — So, what is the catch?

Installing OneNote on my laptop running Windows 7 revealed that a Microsoft login is required to connect it to the Cloud. I installed OneNote on my iPhone 5S, and after the first three beautiful screens describing how wonderful OneNote is, the fourth reads “All you have to do is sign in”.

What is amusing about Microsoft’s attempt to gain Apple users by requiring a Microsoft account is the contrast to Apple, who offers iTunes for Windows as a means to bridge Microsoft users already owning iPods and iPhones that need a bridge to the Apple world.

I’m eager to check out OneNote, but I can’t convince myself it’s worth signing up for a Microsoft account.