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Microsoft goes to college with OneNote

The software giant targets students with an academic version of its new note-taking application that's designed to collect and organize notes from a variety of sources.

Microsoft announced Monday that it will sell a discounted academic version of OneNote, its new application for note-taking and information management.

The version will be available to teachers and students for $49, compared with the standard price of $199, and its release will be accompanied by a marketing campaign focused on college students, a key target market for the new application.

OneNote, one of two new applications included in Office System, Microsoft's newly renamed line of workplace productivity applications, is being positioned as an adjunct to Word's word processing program. OneNote is designed for taking notes and organizing them with information from other sources, such as Web pages. The program automatically saves notes as they're input and offers several options for organizing and browsing notes, which can later be incorporated into final Word documents.

Microsoft introduced a discounted academic version of Office last year. The program quickly became the most popular consumer version of Office, thanks in part to lax enforcement of licensing terms that restrict use to students and educators.

OneNote will debut along with other Office System packages on Oct. 21.

The product was initially seen mainly as a tool to be used with the fledgling Tablet PC format Microsoft introduced last year, but the software giant has since positioned it as a general application for anyone who needs to collect and organize notes from a variety of sources.

College students, who have to incorporate lecture notes and library research, are a natural audience for OneNote, said Bobby Moore, Microsoft's product manager for OneNote.

"It's going to allow them to organize information in such a way that it'll be much easier to use it," Moore said. "One of the interesting things that's happening now in colleges is this idea of open-note exams. We found in our testing that the ability to search their notes in OneNote gave students a real advantage in those kinds of exams."

In addition to the discounted academic edition of the software, Microsoft will distribute on college campuses 500,000 CDs of a trial version of OneNote, and the company will set up Tablet PC kiosks in 300 campus bookstores that have tablets running OneNote.