OneNote 2013 and Windows 10 – Potentially Lethal

The union is proving to be very problematic…

onenote and windows 10

I’m a huge OneNote advocate. In fact, it’s the major reason why I’ve been using a Microsoft Surface Pro series tablet since their initial release in 2012. The ultrabook’s active digitizer, pen and OneNote create a digital notepad experience that can’t be beat in a corporate meeting setting. I wouldn’t want to take notes in a meeting any other way.

When Windows 10 came out, it was natural for me to pursue placing it on my Surface Pro 3. I was a formal part of the Microsoft Technical Beta Team between 1996 and 2002. I’ve been an active Windows beta tester via my company’s IT department since time began, so I’m used to working on systems and with hardware with beta software on it. It’s become second nature to me.

OneNote on my Surface Pro 3 under Windows 8.x worked as intended and expected. It’s all released software with some maturity on it, so I expected everything to go smoothly; and it did.

With Windows 10, its been somewhat of a different story.  With Builds 9879 and older, things were fine.  While the OS may have been a bit buggy, OneNote appeared to be functioning as a mature, released productivity application running on a buggy, beta OS. In other words – situation normal.

With build 9926, however, things have taken a drastic step backwards.

The OS is still buggy and problematic, but that’s to be expected. It’s still a beta of an unreleased OS.  However, OneNote has become increasingly unreliable.  Unfortunately for me, this behavior has bled outside of the OS.  There seems to be something going on with OneNote 2013, specifically in Windows 10, as I’m not seeing this behavior anywhere else I have the software running.  And that… I find very concerning.

Pen and inking services are directly controlled by Windows.  This is where I’m having the issue and problems, and since OneNote 2013 is relying on Windows 10 to create digital ink, interaction between OneNote 2013 and Windows 10 Build 9926, seems to be at the heart of the matter.

OneNote 2013

OneNote 2013 exhibits a disappearing ink problem where drawn, digital ink just vanishes, never to be seen again, regardless of whether or not a notebook has synchronized or not.  It usually starts happening 3-5 minutes after the application has been opened.

Desktop OneNote doesn’t show any symptoms of the problem prior to ink disappearing.  Ink just…vanishes. It’s not ALL ink, or all ink after a specific amount of time has elapsed or a specific even occurs.  Some in may vanish.  Other ink may not vanish. Disappearing ink can be letters, words, sentences or whole passages of digital ink.

There’s no pattern to this. There’s no “tell.” There’s no way for me to state or predict with any level of accuracy what so ever, that after “this” point in the app, after being open for a specific period of time, or after writing a section of digital ink, that any, some or all of the ink will disappear; and it doesn’t disappear immediately after you stop writing.

It might take 15-45 seconds or so and then, when it does disappear, it doesn’t blip, blink or otherwise show you that it’s there, but invisible or merely “forgotten.” It’s truly no longer part of the file.

It may be removed as part of the “save,” as that part of the file was never part of the file to begin with. It may not.  I have no idea… and I think THAT more than anything annoys me the most.  I can’t catch the pattern, and either reproduce the issue on demand, or prevent it from happening.

OneNote Preview

OneNote Preview for Windows 10 also has a disappearing ink problem; but there’s a bit of a difference here.  OneNote Preview has a tell.  The current page you’re working with, freezes.  you can still ink on the page, but the page won’t move up, down left or right.  The app may then stutter, and/or closes and all of the ink that was written to a page from the point of the stutter forward – when the page freezes or refuses to move – disappears.

OneNote Preview also auto-minimizes at times. When its window is restored, the app displays its splash screen and then hangs or appears to hang. You can minimize/ restore the window all you want, but the app may or may not “reactivate” at that point. Your may have to force quit it and restart it. On many occasions, I’ve had to bounce my SP3 to get OneNote Preview for Windows 10 to run correctly again.


The app may recover and may or may not have had ink disappear.  I’ve noticed this behavior in OneNote Preview, and the app can “recover,” but the ink that was written while the app was in that “bad state” is lost. Ink written after that (i.e. when the screen “unfreezes,” is saved.  OR, the app may have a state so severe, that the Window won’t restore, and you have to quit the app via Task Manager or, if possible, tap and hold the icon on the Task bar and then choose “Close.”

I’ve been dealing with this now on and off for the past 3-4 weeks.  Its put a huge dent in  my productivity at the office, as I can and have lost whole paragraphs of written notes that I thought were “safe,” and ultimately were not.

While writing this, it was announced that Microsoft may be releasing a new Windows 10 build as early as 2015-03-13; and also announced plans to step up the frequency of its Windows 10 builds in its Insider’s “Fast” release ring.  If and how any resolution to this issue is introduced in any new builds of Windows 10 or Office 2013 will of course, be the subject of an update here on Soft32, and I will definitely keep everyone posted.  If you having issues with OneNote and Windows 10, I’d love to get the details from you in the comments section, below.

OneNote Tweet 01 OneNote Tweet 02

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  • This is happening to me too. This is unacceptable for me, I have to use OneNote and it should be addressed ASAP. To me, it seems like it happens almost like a timed undo of the last set of strokes, and it happens on a pause once you start writing below that line.

    • ChrisSpera

      It appears that this is related to the “palm resting on your screen while you write” technology in Windows 10. Both the OneNote and Windows 10 Teams are working on a fix for this.

      However, there currently isn’t a solution for this, and the issue still exists in Windows 10 Build 10049. If you need OneNote 2013 as a critical path app, then you need to get off of Windows 10 and go back to Windows 8.1.

      To do that, you need to go check out my column today located here:

      There are some important instructions for doing that and getting that to work correctly, there.

  • JC

    OneNote News Radar on Paper.iin just picked up your blog post today and I was glad to see it. I have been using touch-enabled Windows since Microsoft added touch and ink to XP. I purchased my first “tablet” (convertible laptop) in 2005 while deployed to Mississippi working Hurricane Katrina. It was HEAVY to lug around to say the least, but it made my work-load so much easier to manager. At that time, of course OneNote was not available and probably hand not been dreamed of yet. The best ink experience was in the Franklin-Covey add-in to Outlook. It JUST WORKED! Smoothly. Beautifully, It was pressure-sensitive and almost gave the feel of writing with a fountain pen (which is what I use for daily real-ink writing.) I have never been without a touch-enabled laptop (whatever name they are calling it at the moment) since then. (I have been in most OS and software beta tests since then including the secret, back-stage public involvement with the development of Windows Phone 7.)
    Enter OneNote. LOVED IT. Still do. It is one of the crown-jewels of Microsoft that has gotten, from my perspective, way to little attention in the “mainstream.” No one really understands it or what to do with it. But it, like the Franklin-Covey Software just worked.
    I finally was able to upgrade from my Surface Pro to a Surface Pro 3 about five weeks ago. While I had noticed the inking issue before that, I started commenting on it at that point. I understand the issues of working with a pre-release OS. HOWEVER, in this instance I have been amazed, shocked, and extremely dismayed with Microsoft’s response to this issue, It seems to be: ” Yeh, we know. It’s a known issue. Use the app version or roll back to 8.1 if that’s an issue for you.”
    Ink and touch, handwriting recognition, along with OneNote are some of the huge features that separate Windows from the fruity and the open-source OS alternatives. NONE of my friends who have a Mac or iPad or chrome-whatever can do anything remotely near what I do with my Surface Pro 3. I am back in school getting another degree. I print the professor’s PowerPoint presentation to OneNote and hand-write my lecture notes there. I of course save everything to the folder I have created for that class in my OneDrive (which has more space than any competitor will dream of offering and probably more space than any single person will ever use.)
    So yeh, this ink-disappear issue is HUGE for me. And no, the app version, as they try to imply, is not any better. Let’s be honest here. Microsoft is fighting for survival right now. Having gotten 10051 on my Lumia 1520, I see they STILL have a long way to go before RTM. This ink issue has to be on the top of the list for fixing.
    PS. I am getting my next degree in the legal field. Just before I got my SP3, I was in a 341 hearing working for the Trustee behind the courtroom bench. His MacBook or whatever it is had been locked in his car in another town so he grabbed my SP with Windows 10. Even with the bugs it was almost enough to convince him that MS is actually something to use. Once Win10 is RTM, I am going to get him to use my SP3 and then, I am certain he will switch!

  • Paul Irwin

    Having the same problem here, It’s killing me!

    Seems to be related to the palm resting on screen, and only disappears when you try to pan the screen with your finger afterwards. and ‘pop’ half of what you just wrote is gone!

    windows 10, surface pro 3 (i7), OneNote Preview and OneNote 2013 here.

  • Tom Cristiani

    Confirmed. Palm detection was the problem and it’s no longer an issue. Good work, Microsoft. Very quick response on this one!

    • Joshua Eckelberry

      What about now? I’m having the issue with this build Do you know of any combo-techniques that prevent this? I zoom to check for disappearing notes periodically as to not lose too much info at once.

    • Tom Cristiani

      10074 has been working fine for me. What device do you use?

  • Joshua Eckelberry

    I’m still having this problem with the latest build… it really affects my real time lecture notes and recordings. I keep going back to 8.1 because of this seemingly small problem.

  • jon1836

    I just upgraded my Surface 3 to Windows 10 and I can say that this is still an issue in the production release of Windows 10. I am really surprised to see how long Microsoft has known about this issue without fixing it.

  • Clay Dittman

    As another windows insider, I am still rocking windows 8.1 because they haven’t solved this issue. Can you please post where you put this in the microsoft forums? I tweeted it to Belfiore but they never fixed it before the official release to public. Sad, everyone I know with a surface has been warned to stay away form windows 10 until this issue is fixed.

    • Olivier Gemoets

      Same wir me, Windows 10 not usable fort me just because of this issue. Issing Surface 3.

  • Clay Dittman

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