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Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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Touching the Surface – OneNote, OneDrive

OneNoteA few weeks ago, I downloaded a free Android App for my mobile called “OneNote”. Recently one of my customers asked me if there was an app that could save all his passwords, make notes so that he can access it all in one place as well as being able to access them from a PC. I showed him OneNote.

I must say that It does this job very well – Whether I am on my Samsung 10.1” tablet, my S6 smartphone, if I want to access it via the web, or simply to save it directly from Microsoft Office’s Windows application, OneNote – which is a very under-rated application that no-one seems to use, it all integrates seamlessly. It goes beyond that, however, it uses Microsoft’s cloud service called OneDrive and saves all the notes in one spot on the web.

If you haven’t got a Windows Live ID account yet, head on over to http://login.live.com and get an account. OneDrive is more than just a convenient place to store notes. It includes an internet browser based copy of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote called WebApps. It has15Gb of free storage for you to keep all your photo’s, documents backed up and accessible from any of your PC or mobile devices. All you need is an internet connection. Never lose anything ever again. An additional 15gb is automatically added to your account if you sync your “Camera Roll” with the account – and why would you not want to do that?

surface_2The OneDrive web apps are amazing – you don’t need Word installed on your PC – you just need a compatible internet browser and voila! You can open up your word documents in a web browser like Internet Explorer, work on them and save them on-line – accessible in the “cloud” from all your devices. It is a scaled down version of the Office 2010 Suite Apps for PC, but they are certainly functional enough to do most tasks and certainly good enough to view documents on-line. They are also, in my opinion, much less clumsy and awkward than the existing mobile apps.

OneDrive works so much better than other apps for the cloud I’ve used. If you have a utility like “OneDrive Browser” for your android, you can put PDF files and anything else you need and make it immediately accessible from any device.

Most people don’t see the power of the cloud and a simple internet browser. Many software / support companies don’t see how the reliance on I.T. folk will shift from support people to training people and programmers. This is the area in IT that will grow in time.

In a short while, you won’t buy any software – you will just subscribe to it and when you decide to stop using it, you will just end your subscription. You want to use an accounting package like Pastel, Quickbooks, etc? No problem, go to their site address, type in your username and password and you use it right there in your internet web browser. No need for backups. No need for fast PC’s – all the processing is done on their servers. All you will need is a low latency, adequate bandwidth, reliable internet connection.

Microsoft does something better than anyone else – they make things work together. It is why I speculate that even though Windows 8 is rather late in the tablet game with the announcement of their new Windows “Surface” tablet, they are already ahead of the pack.

surface_1Microsoft’s “comeback” slogan for tablets as well as cloud services really should be – “late in the game, but already ahead of the pack.”  Don’t believe me? One of the number one gripes about people using portable tablets, phones, etc that I am faced with is: “Why is there no Microsoft Office package that works like Office?”

The Microsoft philosophy is one program working on everything. The most successful programming languages work this way, and I see no reason for this to not be what we demand from our devices. Trying to bind proprietary hardware to software has historically been shown to be successful, but ultimately detrimental to the products that embrace this. People want choice.

Give OneNote and OneDrive a try. It’s currently freely available for PC, Windows Mobile, Android and even the iPad.