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.

OR…

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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