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Microsoft Journal becomes fully-fledged Windows app

The new "ink-first" notetaking software will also be integrated into Microsoft 365

The Microsoft Journal app

Microsoft has promoted its Garage project 'Journal', a notetaking app designed for devices that support styluses, into a Windows app.

The app is available for download from the Microsoft store for both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices. 

Originally announced in Jan 2021, Microsoft Journal is an "ink-first" experience, the company said in a blog post. The app lets users write and draw, but it also supports gestures, such as scratching words out to delete them or circling bits of text to select them. It can be used to mark up PDFs, which was the most popular use case during its time in Garage. According to a pie chart in the blog post, 59% of all page types in Journal were PDF. 

The app is optimised for tablets and 2-in-1 devices that support digital pens and will also be integrated with Microsoft 365 where users can drag and drop selected content between pages or to other apps. This includes use with the Calendar app. 

Microsoft Journal on Microsoft 365

Microsoft's Garage is an experimental hub where the tech giant takes users' requests and feedback to build and deploy new software and services. With Journal now a fully supported product, Microsoft's principal engineering manager, Oz Solomon, said the tech giant plans to address "the most common requests and a backlog of new features." 

The development of notetaking technology has become something of a trend for the biggest tech firms. Several third-party services can be found on most app ecosystems, but companies like Microsoft and Huawei are developing device-specific versions.

At MWC Huawei unveiled the MatePad Paper, which is notetaking hardware. This was described to IT Pro during a hands-on session as somewhere between an e-reader and a tablet, though, unlike the Microsoft app, the Paper only shows black, white and grey content. But the trend does have a specific audience to target.

Huawei's MatePad Paper

"Journal works for people who think in ink because its design is focused on that tactile, intimate experience people have when they use a pen. In turn, usage data helps focus us on driving that experience forward," Journal's principal program manager, Jacques Chamberland, said.

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