Yes, the final code of OneNote 2007 is now available for purchase in an actual box (with a curvy corner no less and fancy pull out center: here are some samples if you haven't been down to a store yet). Of course OneNote is available along with Office 2007 and Windows Vista today. This is hardly news for most people in the tech world but it's a big deal for all of us who worked on it so I wanted to mark the occasion.

As we near the expiry of beta 2 of office 2007 products (build 4017 in Help/About) on Feb 1, I expect to hear from several people who are still using that build for some reason (I am already hearing from them in fact).

Likewise there are people still running beta 2 tech refresh (build 4407 in Help/About) which expires Mar 31.

To everyone running a beta version: stop doing that. You will be much happier.

If you have decided you will keep using OneNote now that you've experienced the beta, and I am sure that is every single one of you :-), the simplest thing to do would be to go buy the full version (version 4518 in Help/About). You can uninstall the beta version and then install the final code of OneNote. All your notes will be there - no worries. I personally wouldn't even bother with a backup, but that is me.

I realize that many people are in special circumstances though. If you are expecting your company or university to provide the new version for free or highly subsidized, but they are taking their sweet time doing so, you can maximize the amount of time you can use OneNote 2007 with full editing capabilities while avoiding spending any of your own stash. If you just need 60 days or less, I would uninstall the beta and install the trial version which gives you the final code and all the capabilities for 60 days. Well, you won't get save as PDF with the trial until you convert it to the full version. (update: a change was made Feb 1 to allow trial to validate so you can get this now). If you think they won't give you what you need within 60 days, and you are still running one of the beta versions, you could stay on beta 2 tech refresh until it expires on Mar 31, then switch to the trial for another 60 days after that. For those of you still running plain beta 2 (build 4017) you can patch to beta 2 tech refresh build 4407 here. There's no need to wait to do this as the expiry date is fixed unlike with the trial.

Once you are running final code (either the trial version or the full version), you can't go back to beta code (or 2003) - the betas and 2003 will not read files updated by the final 2007 version. That said, don't stick around on the beta code longer than you have to - we fixed a lot of bugs between that version and the final release so it pains me to think people are using it even now.

If you have the trial right now, when you buy the full version just activate your trial installation in Help/Activate Product using the product key of the final version. Don't bother to uninstall and reinstall because the code is the same. Activation of the trial over the internet is limited right now (in some cases because we're limited to certain countries where laws make it easy to support credit card use over the net). For others, you can buy a product key from a retailer (or a box) just like you buy pre-paid phone minutes, or just buy from an on-line retailer (unless the credit card thing makes that hard where you are).

Of course a better option than buying standalone OneNote is to get the Home and Student edition of Office 2007. For just a few dollars more than OneNote standalone you get not only OneNote but also Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 - and they rock. If you do this, note that you need to unistall the standalone trial version before installing Home and Student as the licensing is not quite the same. If you had been trialing the Office Home and Student version then you don't need to uninstall. Gosh - so complicated. Just make sure that the full version you are installing matches the trial version you purchased - if not you need to unstall the trial first.

I'm also hearing from people who recently got a computer that came with a trial version of OneNote 2003 installed (PC makers are still selling some machines with that installed). Obviously I suggest you not bother with that and recommend you go get the 2007 trial. Even if you have already started using the 2003 trial, just uninstall it and download the 2007 trial - it will pick up where you were, extend the expiry date, and no data will be lost.

Once again I feel like giving a little "boo-yeah' to the OneNote team. Although for all of us here in product development the 2007 release is now "ancient history" we're still dang proud of it. You guys rock!

I also want to mention some resources you really should use:

1. Dan Escapa, a program manager on the OneNote team has taken on the mantle of regular OneNote poster now that I am no longer an "insider". Go bug him and ask him questions. He is really great at responding. In particular, go ask him to create 2007 and 2008 calendar templates for OneNote (he did the 2006 ones).

2. If you have a support question about OneNote (not working right as far as you can tell), please ask your question in the newsgroup. I am of course happy to help if I can but like any good designer I only know what the product is supposed to do. People in the newsgroups can respond quicker and also tell you what the product actually does. :-)

For any MS-people reading this, check out my internal blog and discussion of my new team here: http://msblogs/chrispr. We're hiring!

Till next time...