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Microsoft gives OneNote a bird's-eye view

A free download from Office Labs, dubbed Canvas for OneNote, provides a high-level canvas-view of all your content.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried

REDMOND, Wash.--When Microsoft showed its Seadragon technology some time ago, it was clear that a bird's-eye view was a neat way to do photos. But Microsoft clearly thinks the "bird's-eye" view of content has applications way beyond photos.

On Friday, Microsoft is releasing a free add-on, dubbed Canvas for OneNote, that takes that same approach to viewing one's notebooks in OneNote.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:4df5f112-f04a-490c-9d06-667126389298&amp;showPlaylist=true" target="_new" title="Demo Video" rel="nofollow">Video: Demo Video</a>

Because it is an adjunct to OneNote, Canvas requires one really be a heavy user of that program to get the benefit. (It also requires Windows Vista and uses Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation graphics technology).

But I wouldn't be surprised to see the bird's-eye metaphor used more and more by Microsoft. Indeed, Microsoft also has a presentation tool, the one Stephen Elop is using in his speech today, that also lets a presenter easily zoom in and out of images as opposed to going from one PowerPoint slide to the next.

Others in the industry have also found that a good view for one type of content can be used broadly. Apple for example, used Cover Flow as a means of flipping through albums in iTunes, but later found uses for it for browsing documents in the Finder and, as of this week, for navigating through Web sites in Safari.

Microsoft also has a similar tool for PowerPoint, known as pptPlex.