Ever since the introduction of Windows 8, Microsoft has been using Fresh Paint and OneNote as two very effective ways of demonstrating the touch-focus capabilities of their OS. While OneNote has had a long history with users – being part of the Office productivity suite – and getting integrated deeper with each subsequent release of Windows after 8, Fresh Paint has always seemed to be more of a fun side demo project than an attempt at making a professional tool. Which is why it is curious when the newest project to come out of Microsoft Research, called Plumbago, looks very much like a hybrid between Fresh Paint and OneNote.
The new app was revealed by Tweeter @h0x0d or “Walking Cat”, who found Plumbago’s help page on Microsoft’s research website, and also remarked on its resemblance to Microsoft OneNote. Another user found out that “Plumbago” is also a name of a Microsoft peripheral product, a mouse to be exact, which suggests that the current name is only a placeholder, and something more fitting for a note-taking program will come further in the pipeline.
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) February 3, 2016
It’s easy to see why the UI is being compared to Fresh Paint from the screenshot of the drawing page provided in the Help Page, with the granite gray-themed color palette. The resemblance stops there however, as all of Plumbago’s functions and tools are clearly lifted from OneNote, including Grid view, Highlighter, Pen and Pencil, and more. Curiously, the radial menu, replaced in the latest version of the Modern OneNote app by the top bar found on other Modern Office apps, also seems to have made a comeback in Plumbago, albeit with the new icons.
The homepage interface, however, is different from both of Microsoft’s apps, and should be much more familiar to users of Wacom’s Bamboo Paper app on Windows and other OSes (at least the old version), from the dark grey background, to the 3D book view. Users of Samsung’s Note series of phones and tablet may also see the resemblance with the built-in S-Note app.
Microsoft has yet to release the app, so further speculation on what might be the future for “Plumbago” will have to wait.