Journal, Microsoft’s AI-powered note-taking app, is now available as a Windows app

A digital note-taking tool named Journal is making the transition from being an experimental project housed at Microsoft’s internal incubator, Microsoft Garage, to becoming a full-fledged Microsoft Windows application, just over a year after its initial release. Microsoft Journal, a new note-taking program for Windows tablets, 2-in-1s, and other pen-capable devices, will soon be available as Microsoft Journal, allowing users to capture their thoughts and make drawings with their digital pen.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Journal was created to provide users with an alternative to picking up a pen and paper when inspiration strikes, while still allowing them to express themselves through writing. The notion was familiar to the firm, which had initially introduced an ink-focused application called Journal on its Tablet PC in 2002 and continued to add ink capabilities to apps like Whiteboard, OneNote, PowerPoint, and others, according to the company at the time.

Journal, on the other hand, sought to take the notion a step further by mixing digital ink with AI technologies.

The researchers trained the app’s AI to recognize and categorize the things users type, such as headings, starred items, keywords, and even drawings, automatically. The software places a cue on the side of the screen for some of the drawings and headlines that users may tap to pick the information and then take further actions like move or copy.

Based on its comprehension of your inked notes and content, the AI also helped to improve the app’s search features, allowing you to find past notes, lists, doodles, and more.  And the AI helped to power new gestures, like scratch out and instant lasso — tools you could move between more easily, without mode switches. And AI-assisted in the development of new gestures such as scratch out and instant lasso — tools that could be switched between without having to switch modes.


Image Credits: Microsoft

Journal offered drag-and-drop functionality for moving material to other pages or programs, the ability to markup PDFs, keyword search with filters, Microsoft 365 connection for meeting notes, utilizing touch to browse across pages or tap ink to select the text, and more, in addition to its AI focus.

“We are entering an age of computer-aided reasoning, where AI accelerates the tasks that people do and makes us all more productive,” said Stevie Bathiche, technical fellow and leader of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences, speaking about the app’s exit from Garage. “Journal shows just how powerful an experience can be when software anticipates your intentions. This is just the beginning.”

During its time as a Garage project, the team discovered that consumers have different preferences for how they engage with material using touch and a digital pen and that there isn’t a clear winner in terms of which way is preferred. They also discovered that annotating documents was one of Journal’s most popular features, with PDF imports accounting for more than half of the app’s pages.

Journal has been upgraded with a Windows 11 look and feel, including new colors and materials, to coincide with the app’s official introduction. In the short term, the team says it will focus on user input and a backlog of new features. The software will be available to customers from April 5 to April 8, although it may also be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. It is compatible with both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices. The app rolled out to users from April 5 through April 8 but can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Store. It works on both Windows 10 and 11 devices.