OneNote for Windows Store (Metro) Updated

multiplatform (560x254)

The OneNote team(s) have had a big release day. In addition to the OneNote for Android updates for tablets and handwriting, OneNote was also updated for Windows Store (aka Metro app). Microsoft’s OneNote team announced this update on their blog on August 19.

Printing

The OneNote team claims the ability to print pages was the number one requested feature. This feature has been added in this update and it allows printing your notes. In addition, this update allows print previews, allowing portrait and landscape orientations, and the usual printing options like multiple copies and two-sided printing.

In a subtle move away from strictly using Charms for peripherals, printing is supported via Charms, App Bar as well as the conventional Ctrl+P keyboard shortcut.

 

OneNote for Windows Metro Print Charms
OneNote for Windows Metro Print Charms

 

OneNote for Windows Metro Print App Bar
OneNote for Windows Metro Print App Bar

File attachments

Another highly requested feature added was the ability to insert files into notes. If you have an external document you want to add to your notes, you can now insert the document via the radial menu’s insert command. This adds the document into the note and makes it available as-is, and when opened, it opens as a read-only version of the document.

OneNote for Windows Metro Insert File
OneNote for Windows Metro Insert File

PDF printout

Unlike inserting files directly, inserting them as a PDF printout “prints” the file out to OneNote as a PDF. This way, the entire document shows up inside OneNote and then can be annotated inside the note. Both the file attachment and PDF printout were added recently to the iPad and Mac versions of OneNote recently.

OneNote for Windows Metro Insert PDF printout
OneNote for Windows Metro Insert PDF printout

Highlighting with ink

Much like the Android and iOS updates, this feature allows ink highlighting. This can be done via a stylus/pen or a finger. The radial menu now shows multiple colors of “pens” for highlighting and inking.

OneNote for Windows Metro Highlight Pens
OneNote for Windows Metro Highlight Pens

The update is now available in the Store. Let us know how you like it.

Outlook.com Calendar Finally Gets a Coat of Metro

If you have been using Hotmail/Outlook.com for email, you would have noticed that the email, contacts and SkyDrive interfaces are all uniform, designed along the Metro principles of letting the content stand out and moving all unnecessary chrome and controls out of the way. One service which was still bearing the old Hotmail/Live look was the Calendar.

The Calendar was left in the old format for some strange reason even after Outlook.com left preview and became “production” recently. One of the early comments made by Microsoft about Calendar was that they observed that most people use the Calendar on mobile devices or via desktop applications and not the website, and hence they prioritized the Calendar update lower.

However, for those who got used to using the Outlook.com web interface (partly because it is so beautiful and functional), started feeling the eyesore that was Calendar. Until April 2.

Over on Office Blogs, David Dennis announced the new Outlook.com Calendar was finally available at http://calendar.live.com. Some of the salient features of the new Calendar are:

  • The fresh/modern/Metro design. Finally in line with the email, contacts and storage services.
  • Easier navigation and usage. The web app works much like a desktop application with drag across time periods to create an event, incorporating tasks within the same page as calendar, clicking to add/edit events, etc.
  • If you connect your Microsoft account to Skype, LinkedIn and Facebook, you will automatically see birthdays (and other events) from those services in your calendar.
  • Granular (but easy to use) privacy controls for sharing calendars and parts of calendars.
  • Shared calendars with change notifications, enabling scenarios where parents share calendars and get notified when one or the other changes/adds events.
Outlook.com Metro Calendar
Outlook.com Metro Calendar

Overall, this is a much-needed and highly delayed change which finally makes the “Windows Services” consisting of Outlook.com email, Outlook.com Calendar, People and SkyDrive appear like a suite of services made by the same company.

There are still some features available in other services like Google Calendar that are missing from Outlook.com Calendar, but here’s hoping that with this “big” update out of the way, the Calendar team will get more resources to focus on adding functionality to the Calendar, and enhancing how it interacts with the rest of the products in the Microsoft portfolio like Bing.

Do you use Hotmail Calendar? Have you been upgraded to the new version? What are your thoughts?

 

Image courtesy Office Blogs.

Metro is Irreplaceable

Microsoft is a company that’s notorious for branding disasters. Product names are usually long and confusing, and are frequently renamed and rebranded, only adding to the mess.

However, Metro was an exception. It was the name of a design language that spread rapidly throughout the company, effectively uniting its products in many ways. It represents the company thinking outside of the box, and leaving its comfort zone to create awesome products. It represents the far more consistent and close-knit ecosystem that the company has been working hard to build over the past few years. And finally, it represents the culture of Microsoft in pursuing all of this.

In terms of branding, it did a great thing. While Metro was initially a term to describe Microsoft’s new, fresh, and authentic design language, it organically came to represent much more.

Reportedly, due to legal issues, Microsoft will be ditching the term and expunging it from well, everything. Products, marketing materials, documentation, help files…

Wow.

This is a complete disaster. And to make matters worse, Microsoft has handled this horribly. A Microsoft spokesperson issued a comment to Mary-Jo Foley that dismisses Metro as a mere codename:

“We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines. As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names.”

Officially, we have no idea what the real reasons behind this are. In any case, what they’re doing is wrong. Provided that the legal issues are to blame, they should have seriously fought it. I mean come on, you’re Microsoft. Surely you have the resources to deal with a European partner, even if it became a messy and costly situation.

If the statement from the company is complete fact — that it’s a codename that the company suddenly decided to distance itself from — then I’d like to have whatever they were smoking to make them think this is a good idea.

What’s done is done. But what can be done about this moving forward? After going on the record and dismissing Metro as a lowly codename, it’s hard to just backtrack from that provided that they’re contemplating working towards using it again. If they wanted to stay true to their word, they’re going to have to move forward and choose a replacement for Metro.

But there’s one problem. Metro is irreplaceable. No one term has been through all that Metro has to bear the same significance.

Ditching an important brand is hard for any company. Could you imagine if, right around the time of launch, Apple was forced to ditch “iPhone” due to legal disputes? If this is a bad situation for a company like Apple — that’s highly skilled at branding and marketing — could you imagine the ramifications for Microsoft? It’s unlikely that a company rife with branding nightmares can concoct a sufficient replacement.

If today’s rumors prove to be correct, the replacement terminology for Metro will be cringeworthy.

Mary-Jo Foley is hearing that the “Windows 8″ will be used to replace Metro terminology:

Here’s the official guidance, my sources say: Anything currently/formerly known as a “Metro-Style application” (with or without a hyphen) will now be known officially as a “Windows 8 application.” References to the “Metro user interface” will now be replaced by “Windows 8 user interface.” And instead of saying “Metro design,” the Softies and those adhering to their official guidelines will be using the words “Windows 8 design.”

Putting aside Metro’s irreplaceable factor, this doesn’t even make any sense. Windows 8 is hardly a sufficient replacement. Metro described an entire design philosophy that exists beyond Windows; the term isn’t remotely capable of enveloping the entire definition of Metro. The best part? Instead of referring to the interface on Windows Phone as Metro, you’ll be calling it the “Windows 8 interface on Windows Phone.”

Sigh.

Image Source: istartedsomething

Windows 8 Release Preview App Overview: Cocktail Flow

On May 31, Microsoft made available the next milestone in their development of Windows 8 — the Windows 8 Release Preview. I have it installed and running on two laptops and while my colleague Abhishek Baxi has covered some topics about the operating system itself, I look at one of the most beautiful apps in the Windows Store at the moment, Cocktail Flow.

Windows Phone users will recognize the name, since it was one of the first apps available on the platform and it is one which truly utilizes the Metro design philosophies. Since the launch of this app on Windows Phone, the creators of this app, Team Distinction have released versions for iPhone, Android and Android tablets.

In case you are not familiar with the app, it is designed to help you make cocktails. It provides the capability to search by base or mixer drink, by type (cocktail, shooter, etc.) and also by a combination of what you have “in your cabinet”. While the concept of a bartender-style app is not new, the way it has been designed makes the app simply beautiful to look at and a pleasure to use. What follows is a screenshot tour of the various features of their latest version, that for Windows 8.

Once you open the app, you are brought to a beautiful panorama of selections you can make to look for information about cocktails. You can see drinks by kind of drinks, by color, by type of drinks, etc.

 

Cocktail Flow Main Screen

Main screen

 

Cocktail Flow Main Screen More Selections

Main screen with more selections

 

Once you click through one of those selections, you are brought to a list of drinks. You can swipe across to see more drinks.

 

Cocktail Flow Whiskey-based Drinks

Whiskey-based drinks

Cocktail Flow Vodka-based Drinks

Vodka-based drinks

Cocktail Flow Green-colored Drinks

Green-colored drinks

Cocktail Flow Shooters

Shooters

If you want to see what kind of cocktails you can make with what you have, you can use the “cabinet” view which lets you mark the spirits, mixers, and liqueurs you have and it adds drinks which you can make from those selections, in the “My Bar” section.

Cocktail Flow My Bar Spirits

My Bar: Choose your spirits

Cocktail Flow My Bar Mixers

My Bar: Choose your mixers

Cocktail Flow My Bar More Mixers

My Bar: More mixers

Cocktail Flow My Bar Liqueurs

My Bar: Liqueurs

Cocktail Flow My Bar Cocktails

My Bar: Cocktails which you can make

 

See the next page for cocktail details screen, adding as a favorite, pinning to Start Screen, etc.

Mozilla Shows Firefox For Windows 8 Tablets But Don’t Look Now

Mozilla announcing plans to do a Metro version of Firefox for Windows 8 tablets was received with optimism. The browser has a steady community despite Google’s Chrome replacing it in the hearts of most techies. Yesterday, Ed Bott at ZDNet shared Mozilla’s progress on Firefox Metro. As it turns out, what Mozilla showed wasn’t the final design so I’m being told not to judge them. In his status update blog post, Mozilla engineer Brian Bondy elaborates on where Firefox Metro is:

  • Integration with Share Charm to share a page with any application (What are Charms?)
  • Support for Metro Snap
  • Search Charm integration: if Firefox Metro is your default browser and you enter a URL in the Search Charm, the page will be loaded

Bondy says work on the UI and experience has not started. For Mozilla, supporting Metro in Windows 8 is important since:

If a browser is default on Metro, it will also be default on the Desktop.

If a browser does not support Metro, it is seriously at risk of losing the default browser status, and therefore significant market share.

Here’s what was shown:

When I saw the screenshots I was reminded of Windows 3.0. Here’s why:

Metro is a design language and there are only two ways a company can differentiate their browser from Intern Explorer 10:

  1. Features
  2. Design
It will be interesting to see how Mozilla achieves differentiation.

http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/taouu/html/ch02s08.html

Windows 8: Embrace Or Reject?

Windows Logo

Microsoft made the “Consumer Preview” (beta) of the next version of their Windows operating system, Windows 8, available on February 29, 2012 in Barcelona. Since then, they also tweeted that they had over one million downloads within the first 24 hours. Needless to say, the interest in the new operating system is very high. It is so high that the casual users are screaming “I love it” and some of the power users are screaming “This is a piece of confusing mess”. Here is my take, trying to take a step back and wondering aloud, if there is a method to the madness.

One of the biggest changes in Windows 8 is the removal of the Start Menu and the replacement of the same with the Start Screen. Not only is the medium different – the Start Menu is exactly that, a menu, whereas the Start Screen is a screenful of brightly colored tiles with animations showing photos, notifications, etc. – but also, Microsoft has made it difficult/impossible to revert to “classic” style. Microsoft has made it clear, there is no going back, and this is the way to the future. This is the cutoff from the past and Microsoft’s entry into the PC-Plus era. “Touch first”, “fast and fluid” and of course, “no compromise”. The latter has been the topic of a lot of controversy, as you will see later in this article.

Mozilla Announces Firefox on Metro for a Touchscreen Optimized Browsing Experience

FirefoxMozilla took way too long to bring Firefox to smartphones, and suffered as a result. It had a go in 2004 with Minimo, but users had to wait until 2011 to get a version of Firefox Mobile that wasn’t slow as a cow and didn’t crash on a whimsy. Not wanting to repeat its earlier mistake, Mozilla has begun working on a Metro-fied version of Firefox for Windows 8 months ahead of the release of Microsoft’s next major operating system.

Firefox on Metro will be a full-screen, touch optimized app built on top of the same Gecko engine that powers Firefox classic. It’s still early days for the project, and Mozilla isn’t providing a lot of information. However, here is what we do know.

  • The feature goal here is a new Gecko based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment.
  • Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.
  • Firefox on Metro will bring all of the Gecko capabilities to this new environment and the assumption is that Mozilla be able to run Firefox as a Medium integrity app so that it can access all of the win32 Firefox Gecko libraries avoiding a port to the new WinRT API for the bulk of the code.
  • Firefox on Metro is a full-screen App with an Appbar that contains common navigation controls (back, reload, etc.,) the Awesomebar, and some form of tabs.
  • Firefox will have to support three “snap” states — full screen, ~1/6th screen and ~5/6th screen depending on how the user “docks” two full screen apps. The UI will to adjust to show the most relevant content for each size.
  • In order to provide users with access to other content, other apps, and to Firefox from other content and apps, it will integrate with the share contract, the search contract, the settings contract, the app to app picking contract, the print contract, the play to contract, and possibly a couple more. Firefox on Metro will be a source for some, a target for some, and both for some.
  • Mozilla might offer a live tile with user-centric data like friends presence or other Firefox Home information updates
  • Ideally Mozilla will like to be able to create secondary tiles for Web-based apps hosted in Firefox’s runtime.

Mozilla is hoping that Microsoft will allow it to run Firefox as a medium integrity app (like Internet Explorer 10 Metro App). Medium integrity apps typically have more privileges and can load old school Win32 libraries. This will make Mozilla’s task simpler. Even then, Firefox on Metro is expected to hit alpha and beta stages only in the second half of the year. A preview should be ready by the second quarter of 2012.

[Screenshots] Microsoft Demos Office 15 & Windows Live Metro

Windows President, Steve Sinofsky’s article about Windows 8 on ARM, Microsoft shared a video demonstrating how the product looks as of now. During the demo, Microsoft showed what Office 15 will look like on a tablet and the Metro version of Microsoft’s Windows Live suite of applications. Here are the screenshots:

Microsoft Office 15 Word

Microsoft Office 15 Excel

Microsoft Office 15 PowerPoint

Microsoft Office 15 OneNote

Windows Live Calendar

Windows Live Metro Photos

Windows Live Metro Mail

An Introduction to Metro Style Apps

The next version of Windows (codenamed Windows 8) is designed to build on what is great about Windows 7. It extends the fundamental features of Windows 7 with a new touch-optimized interface. Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface, which shows the information important to you, embodies simplicity, and gives you control. The interface is optimized for fluid and intuitive interaction and navigation with either a finger, or a mouse and keyboard. Windows 8 provides a platform to create a new generation of full-screen apps that are based on modern web standards and provide an immersive experience. These Metro style apps are tailored to users’ needs and to the device they run on.

Windows 8 Start Screen

Immersive and Fluid

Your Metro style apps fill the entire screen for an engaging experience and saving you from any distraction. Apps can adapt to a variety of form factors and screen resolutions, and can work on x86, x64, and ARM platforms.

Engaging

Metro style apps engage users with the info they are interested in and the people they care about. Live tiles present activity updates to users at a glance and the Start screen shows off what apps are great at.

Everywhere

Your apps are ready for you on any Windows 8 PC you use. When   you sign in with your connected Microsoft account to a PC running Windows 8, your Metro style apps and settings go with you. You’ll also be signed in to all of the websites you were signed in to.

Work Together

Metro style apps can communicate with each other in Windows 8, making it easier to search, share, and send content between them. So, if you want to send pictures in email, and they’re in different places like Facebook or on your hard drive, you can easily pick and send the ones you want.

Always On

Metro style apps run and stay up to date even when the PC is on standby. When Windows comes out of standby, your apps don’t need time to catch up.

Multitasking

While apps immerse your users in a full screen environment, Windows also makes it possible for them to multitask. The Snapped view allows users to do more than one thing at once while the Filled view allows users to snap one app and keep another app in the fill space.

Microsoft to Charge 30% to Developers on Windows 8 Metro App Store

When Apple unveiled the iPhone App Store back in 2008, it was widely appreciated as an easy way for developers to get their applications to the user without having to worry about the payment backend or distribution system. Though there had been application stores before, the App Store was the first one which spawned some instant “App Store Millionaire” success stories, which attracted even more developers.

Apple charges a 30% cut of all sales proceeds on the App Store. At first, the number may seem a bit high, but when you consider the costs of setting up an efficient distribution and payments platform, as well as the reach provided by the App Store, it has turned out to be very lucrative for developers. Apple doesn’t see the App Store as a profit engine, and just makes enough to keep the engines well lubricated.

Most application stores after the App Store, like the Android Market and the Windows Marketplace have adopted the same pricing structure. Even the new Mac App Store did the same. However, Google tried to attract more developers by charging just 5% on the Chrome Web Store, which doesn’t seem to be working out that well.

Windows 8 Metro App Store

When Microsoft unveiled the developer preview of Windows 8 last week, we were wondering if Microsoft might also charge a lower percentage of sales to attract some developers to the Metro App Store and get some initial momentum. Apparently, it will be adopting the same 70-30 structure as all other major app stores. Apple Insider reveals that Microsoft plans to take a 30% cut for Metro style apps on the Metro App Store.

With the reach of Windows, and this being the first official App Store for it, we expect that developers will be flocking to the platform to develop Metro apps. After the iOS App Store, this will probably be the next best destination for developers wanting to become App Store millionaires.