Microsoft developing new Windows 8 note-taking app

Microsoft has been making a number of its own internal apps for Windows 8, including a number from the Bing division. This week, the Visual C++ team announced it is working on its own Windows 8 app, with the code name Project Austin.

In a post on the Visual C++ blog, Microsoft's Jorge Pereira talks about the app. He writes:

Austin is a digital note-taking app for Windows 8. You can add pages to your notebook, delete them, or move them around. You can use digital ink to write or draw things on those pages. You can add photos from your computer, from SkyDrive, or directly from your computer's camera. You can share the notes you create to other Windows 8 apps such as e-mail or SkyDrive.

Pereira adds that Project Austin is not meant to be a replacement for the OneNote software in Microsoft Office, saying, "We believe in the beautiful simplicity of just a pen and a piece of paper, and that's what we tried to recreate with it."

Pereira also mentions that Project Austin was based on an earlier project with the code-name Courier.

The blog says that the main objective of Project Austin was to show the power of making Windows 8 apps with C++ and it goes into quite a bit of detail about how the app was made. For example, the app was designed to have a mode that made it look like the user was turning a real page. Pereira says:

Getting this page curling right was also an interesting piece of work. We started by using a physics engine to try to simulate the paper but it ended up looking too much like cloth. Eventually, we wrote some code inspired by [1] that wraps the paper around a "virtual", invisible cone that changes form as the user swipes the finger across the screen. The results of this much simpler approach look great.

This is apparently the first of several blog posts planned for Project Austin, but at the moment there's no word on when the app will be released for Windows 8.

Source: Visual C++ blog | Image via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

What happens when you glue an iPhone 5 to the ground of a busy street?

Next Story

New proof-of-concept bootkit targets UEFI and Windows 8

18 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I think this is about demonstrating what can be done with the new capabilities to third party developers, more than it is about this app itself.

bkydcmpr said,
an earlier project with the code-name Courier ------- there are tears in my eyes

I know - Courier was such a great idea...wish they'd gone along with it :\

Did you even read the blog post? This is a tech demo, the source code is available online right now if you want to get it you can from http://austin.codeplex.com/

They said they might put it in the app store but they don't know for sure. This isn't Microsoft "developing [a] new Windows note taking app" it is just a tech demo for C++/CX.

Come on. Austin is just "to showcase the power of the native platform and C++, and some of the new features in Visual Studio 2012". It's a demo, not a real product.

Oh, great. More tacky notebook-papered-page-curling crap. What happened to "authentically digital?"
And what is in that first screen shot? It looks like a bunch of ransom notes or recipe cards typed on an old monospace typewriter. A broken one, at that...

Dot Matrix said,
Doesn't this break the point of Metro? To do away with skeuomorphisms?

My thoughts, too. I'm highly disappointed to see this, especially as it's from a Microsoft team

Dot Matrix said,
Doesn't this break the point of Metro? To do away with skeuomorphisms?

1) This is a demo project to show off what C++ in WinRT.
2) Windows 8 applications are not required to be Metro, especially C++ & DirectX based projects. I'd rather if designers are there, they show off their skills and create unique experiences for those who want them, not be limited and funnelled in to under designing applications. Sometimes unique design is a good USP, and making everything 100% Metro is not a good idea.

~Johnny said,

1) This is a demo project to show off what C++ in WinRT.
2) Windows 8 applications are not required to be Metro, especially C++ & DirectX based projects. I'd rather if designers are there, they show off their skills and create unique experiences for those who want them, not be limited and funnelled in to under designing applications. Sometimes unique design is a good USP, and making everything 100% Metro is not a good idea.


I disagree with your view that making everything 100% "Metro" is not a good idea. If something isn't "Metro," the great consistency is lost; applications all use a completely different design philosophy, like they did in older versions of Windows, and the user experience is negatively harmed then, in my opinion.

This may be a demo project to how off what can be done, but it may end up being released like this, and that's where the inconsistent apps begin, eventually leading to a platform on which many apps follow different design philosophies.

Calum said,

My thoughts, too. I'm highly disappointed to see this, especially as it's from a Microsoft team

But this is just basically a demo app by the C++ team to show what you can do... not a commerically available app from Microsoft themselves

Calum said,

I disagree with your view that making everything 100% "Metro" is not a good idea. If something isn't "Metro," the great consistency is lost; applications all use a completely different design philosophy, like they did in older versions of Windows, and the user experience is negatively harmed then, in my opinion.

It depends. On OS X you have apps like Address Book, iCal and Notes which utilize skeuomorphic designs. In the end, however, they still act, work and behave exactly the same way as apps with a regular Aqua appearance. They utilize standard OS X window principles, just in a slightly different wrapper. Long story short: Breaking consistency appearance-wise doesn't have to break consistency when it comes to functionality. Although this particular demo app obviously does both.

While I still haven't made up my mind about Apple's approach on this I do appreciate the idea behind it: OS X consistency hit an all-time high with OS X Snow Leopard. Basically all apps looked exactly the same. In itself a great achievement, but there was also downside: OS X started to look incredibly bland. While OS X Mountain Lion is still highly consistent and there are no legacy interface elements to be found, those few apps that break away from default Aqua do a lot to spice things up a bit.

Maybe it's better to just stick with a couple of different window shades to keep things interesting.

Edited by .Neo, Sep 21 2012, 7:05pm :

"... there's no word on when the app will be released for Windows 8."

Um, this is an open-source project. Released under the Apache License 2.0.

They're deliberately using this as a technology showcase, because, after all, they're the Visual C++ team. Thus, no use of new or delete, even the ink strokes are Direct3D-accelerated, C++ AMP, etc.

If this had come out of Office, they would probably have made more conservative technical choices.

mrp04 said,
Uh what about OneNote

It-s not the same concept. I love OneNote but probably this app sports semantic zoom for looking at several notes at same time, and probably simpler, just like Mac notes at the left of the desktop maybe?

mrp04 said,
Uh what about OneNote

They mention that this isn't meant as a replacement in the article. Basically this is sticky notes where OneNote is a full blown notebook.

Nice app.. Not as slick looking as paper but this is a really good start . Hope beta version will be at the store when win8 launches