Windows operating systems have come and gone, but Microsoft’s Notepad app has remained somewhat constant. Though it got some new features this year, visuals are yet chance. Fortunately, that may not be the case for much longer.
After returning from ‘sabbatical’, Windows exec Steve Teixeira has inherited the application, alongside Calculator. He’s looking for ideas on where to go next and the community has lots of them.
First, though, it’s worth talking about the purpose of Notepad. With Microsoft Word and other text editors on most PCs, some may wonder why it’s even needed. Realistically, the app isn’t for writing essays in. Its sole strength is that it’s lightweight and quick to reach for in a pinch.
Returned from sabbatical to discover I’m now the proud owner of a number of in-box #Windows apps, including notepad and calc. What should we do?
— Steve Teixeira (@stevetex) September 20, 2018
As a result, Microsoft has to be very careful that the features it does add are needed. Teixeira spoke to this soon after his initial tweet, stating:
“Great suggestions! Many of you recognize the balancing act necessary for apps like Notepad and Calc, where their utility is driven in no small part from their simplicity and lack of frills. At the same time, it’s probably possible to do more without adding undue complexity.”
A Fluent Design Re-work
Among the most popular suggestions is a Store version of Notepad, but it’s not entirely clear what the benefit would be. Though such a move would enable automatic updates, the app is designed to need them. The idea is that it sits there like a trusty friend, requiring no maintenance by the user.
Instead, users seem more eager for the visual quirks of UWP – Microsoft’s Fluent Design System. Notepad is certainly due a visual rework, and this way it’d match Calculator. Others seem to point towards a code-like feature-set, but Teixeira points out that’s what VSCode is for.
Still, it’s clear that Notepad could use some additions. Even if there’s not a Fluent Design re-work, a dark mode would be nice, and possibly more formatting options.
However, it’s worth noting that Teixeira has ownership of other in-box apps and is even considering new ones. The only requirement is that they fulfill a basic functionality with no good third-party alternatives.