Whiteboard… there you go and totally redeem yourself… well, almost

I recently wrote a blog on 5 Things I Love About Microsoft Whiteboard and 5 Things I Hate.  This was a pretty accurate view of the capabilities of Microsoft Whiteboard (at the time).  Then… something amazing happened… Microsoft released their new Whiteboard platform and TOTALLY REDEEMED THEMSELVES… (dumb and dumber fans rejoice).  Let’s talk about all the improvements you’re sure to be talking about if you ever used the old Whiteboard app. Let’s hop on and give it a shot!

The Native Teams Experience is Better

I hate that the Teams experience frequently would ask me to “Open in the App”.  It no longer does this and it feels that the Teams native experience is better integrated than it was before.   I don’t find myself seeking to use the “App Experience” as the Teams experience isn’t as clunky anymore and it isn’t frequently clicking off the UI, causing a re-load.  That said, if I did need to click-off the Whiteboard, it still needs to re-load vs. being a persistent background asset. 

Sticky Notes You Can Ink On

To truly capture the idea of translating sticky notes with collaboration/pen to a digital setting you need to recognize ink from a variety of sources.  The old Whiteboard app couldn’t recognize ink in the sticky notes.  The new one does… most of the time.  You’ll notice in the individual sticky notes I can ink on them pretty easily.  In the grouped sticky note template the top header seems to be text only, which is a bit odd.  I’ll take it… at least for now.  A nice improvement but I’d like to see the header addressed.

Templates You Can Ink On

The old templates had terrible implementation and poor ink recognition.  The new template implementation fully respects ink and exists as frameworks for your engagements.  I’m looking forward to using these with customers in collaborative ways where we brainstorm together or talk about ideas with a structured start.  Perhaps a “Concurrency Brainstorming Framework”

Naming Your Whiteboard

The new Whiteboard App lets you name the Whiteboard for later reference.  In addition to it being connected to a meeting it can not have its own persistent name. This may seem simple, but is a nice advantage as you stack up historical whiteboards you’ve used.

Represents a Big Board Really Well

The old version was clunky to zoom in and out.  It didn’t have a true “big board” feel and it was hard to find your way around.  This seems to naturally let you do that and gives you an ability to see the board at scale. This was something MURAL did pretty well, was the big board zoom in / zoom out experience.  This now does something similar.

Cross Platform

The old version had a problem of only working certain places.  This new Microsoft Whiteboard is much more cross compatible and allows for a consistent experience.  I’m looking forward to “inking” from my mobile device in the future.

Format Background

You sometimes want a grid, or a… triangle?  I’m not sure I understand all the choices, but still, I’m glad to have the ability to do it.  There are a few times when I wanted something behind the interface.

Co-Editing Awareness

You can see multiple people editing in the Whiteboard and it brings a flavor of collaboration to the experience.  Very cool.  I’m definitely a fan. 

Things it Still Cannot Do:

Here is the list of things it still cannot do which continue to be annoying or just features I’d really like to have. In some of these cases it just makes sense, or would be very helpful to target groups. Let’s hit them again one more time.


Come on now… create a stinking Visio integration.  I’ll sing your praises forever if you do this.  Can you imagine how much easier a real-time Visio integration would be? It is so much faster to draw an architecture than to make a Visio diagram. Let’s solve that problem!


You still have not slayed that beast.  What are we doing here continuing to have Whiteboard and OneNote?  Can’t these converge at some point?  Where is the plan for that?

Persistent Background Asset

I still really want the whiteboard to function like a persistent background asset vs. something I need to intentionally share.  Why not make it something that is ALWAYS there, like the flip chart in the room vs. needing to load it and un-load it from the consciousness.  You should be able to have someone presenting and the whiteboard be available at the same time vs. needing to choose one. 

Microsoft, I still don’t like loading whiteboards…

A few odd places you can’t ink

There are still a few odd places you can’t ink, like in the title of a template, or “text” boxes. Let’s get ink everywhere in the platform, as it is much more collaborative than typing.

So, all in all, I’m liking what I’m seeing. MAJOR improvement over what we had before and largely aligned to what we get from Mural. Looking forward to using this as my whiteboard of choice!

Nathan Lasnoski

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