The official release of Microsoft’s AI-powered note-taking app Journal for Windows

Almost a year after its initial release, the digital note-taking app Journal is becoming a full-fledged Windows application from Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s internal incubator. In an announcement this week, Microsoft said its brand-new note-taking app would be available as “Microsoft Journal,” allowing users to capture their thoughts and draw with a digital pen on Windows tablets, 2-in-1s and other devices with a pen.

As the name suggests, Journal offers an alternative to sticking a pen and paper in your bag when inspiration strikes. This allows press yourself through written words. Having launched an ink-focused application called Journal on its Tablet PC in 2002, the company also released ink capabilities across other apps such as Whiteboard, OneNote, PowerPoint and more, the company explained at the time.

Nevertheless, Journal wanted to integrate digital ink input with artificial intelligence to advance the concept.

The app’s AI is trained to recognize and categorize headings, starred items, keywords, and even drawings using artificial intelligence. Users can tap a cue for some drawings and headings on some pages to select the content and then perform other actions like moving or copying it.

By analyzing your notes and understanding your inked notes, the AI also improved the app’s search capabilities. The AI also helped to power new gestures, such as scratch out and instant lasso, so that you could switch between them more easily.

Additionally, the Journal included:

  • Drag-and-drop support for moving content between pages and apps.
  • PDF markup.
  • Keyword search with filters.
  • Integration with Microsoft 365 for meeting notes.
  • The ability to tap ink to select text.


Image credit: Microsoft

“We are entering an age of computer-aided reasoning, where AI accelerates the tasks that people do and makes us all more productive,” told Stevie Bathiche, technical fellow and leader of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences, speaking about the app’s exit from Garage. 

The team discovered that users use touch and a digital pen differently, so there is no clear favourite method for interacting with content, and annotating documents is one of the Journal’s most common use cases. PDF imports account for more than half the pages created in the app.

Journal sports a Windows 11 look and feel in its official launch, including new colours and materials. The team says it will work on user feedback and a backlog of new features in the near future. The app will be available to users between April 5 and April 8 but can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Store. It is compatible with both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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