We’ve been able to play with the Consumer Preview of Office 2013 for a bit now and overall it’s an excellent experience. OneNote MX, however, deserves special recognition. As the first Office application designed specifically for the Metro environment, it shows off how things work when they are done right.
That isn’t to say that the new OneNote is a completely different experience. In fact, it works just as you would expect based on previous versions. OneNote MX, for those who haven’t used it before, works as a convenient computerized notebook. It’s handy as a way to keep track of anything you might need, from ideas to images. More than that, though, it’s a great way to keep things organized no matter what the need or project.
The obvious features are included. OneNote MX will sync your notes across computers using SkyDrive. It will also accept input from anything you have on hand. On a desktop or laptop, the mouse and keyboard work just fine. If on a tablet, though, you can write with your finger or a stylus and the program will convert your handwriting into editable text where possible. With Windows 8 tablets about to become a major phenomenon, this will be a huge advantage to anybody who needs to jot things down quickly without worrying about losing the information before they have a chance to use it.
This is also the first place we’ve seen the radial menu so far. This is a circular menu that allows easy access to all of the most common commands that you might need. That includes the copy and paste commands, which anybody would expect to see, but also camera controls and tagging. This app is all about integrating any information you might need and keeping it organized. The radial menu is how you accomplish that feat. It’s a big step forward in terms of touchscreen usability that will also come in handy on more traditional systems.
This is still just a preview, and as such it is missing a few things. You can’t share items directly to it through the Charm bar yet, unfortunately. That is such a basic and vital ability to get the most out of both OneNote MX and Windows 8 that it’s almost shocking to see it left out. You also don’t get access to SharePoint notebooks, though it seems that the proper menu options are in place and waiting to be implemented. Really, though, for a Preview (and it is one according to the Store description) this is a well developed app.
If this is a glimpse at the kind of Windows 8 optimization that we will eventually see in all Office 2013 apps then things are looking good for the future of Office in Metro. Hard as it is to believe, there is nothing to complain about in how things work on either the PC or tablet. It will genuinely be a shame when the Preview ends and people can’t try this one out for free anymore.