Our school requires us to use Microsoft OneNote - a sort of notebook scrapbooking tool meant to hold any and every academic record we generate. On the surface (ha ha), it looks great. Automatic synchronization so you don’t lose all your work when you inevitably drop your laptop, collaboration features so you can type faster than your peers, and a nifty connecting feature that lets you interchangably use the Office suite with OneNote.

In reality, however, OneNote is a bloated and ugly mess - that hardly ever works well.

First, synchronization. OneNote does not handle synchronization as gracefully as the G Suite. G Suite saves all your work the millisecond you type a character - that character is quickly uploaded to the servers to be processed and saved. OneNote, however, synchronizes when it damn well feels like it. That means the changes you made a few minutes ago could be on the OneNote servers now, or it might take another hour to upload, and you’ll have already dropped your laptop out the third floor window.

But that’s not the only problem. OneNote is terrible at remembering passwords - account credentials you offered minutes ago could be forgotten and asked for again. Sync fails for no goddamn reason - again, related to account issues. And when it does work, it works haphazardly and uploads notebooks selectively. Not great to find out you failed an assignment because the work didn’t get uploaded.

Finally, merging. The G Suite doesn’t have this issue - it’s asynchronous, meaning every character you type instantly shows up on your peers’ laptops. However, on OneNote, it behaves very differently. Changes aren’t merged until they both reach OneNote servers, and when they do get merged, there will inevitably be a merging issue because two people changed things differently. OneNote, in that case, either silently fails or gives an error message.

There’s also the case of usability. OneNote is fragmented into three platforms - online, desktop and UWP. The online version is the best version out of the three, because it doesn’t have sync issues. (BECAUSE THERE IS NO SYNC AT ALL, DUMMIES!) The desktop version is second best - the native performance is a bit of a hit or miss, but it generally works well as long as you ignore the gaping holes of failing synchronization. The UWP app is by far the worst. It couldn’t even sign me into my office account, which is pretty bad considering you need to log in to do almost anything (well, actually everything) on OneNote.

Plus, you get the added bonus of random crashes and jitters. OneNote Desktop crashes at the worst moments, which means your data is toast anyway. OneNote has another additional feature of corrupting any and every notebook it opens. Want to get your assignments out of OneNote? Let me just corrupt that notebook for you so you waste hours looking up on how to recover your essay!

Great job Microsoft.