Evernote and Sugarsync: Headed in Reverse Windows 8 Gear

by Patrick Moorhead   |   December 4th, 2012

Two of the apps that changed the way I work are Evernote and Sugarsync.  Evernote allowed me to go paperless and Sugarsync allowed me to have access to all my data accessible by any device.  Both of the apps have very robust Windows 7, OSX, Android and iOS capability.  Robustness stops, though, at Windows 8, where Evernote and Sugarsync are the biggest disappointment I have yet to encounter with the new OS.  It has been 15 months since Microsoft’s BUILD event, more than enough time to architect, design, develop and test any application, particularly one with robust Windows 7 functionality.

Evernote for Windows 8 Metro

For the last few years I have infrequently used a pen or pencil to take a note in a meeting or at home.  I take all notes with Evernote.  Even if someone hands me a piece of paper, I will take a picture and import into Evernote.  Business card?  Import into Evernote and throw it away.  Whiteboard?  Take a picture and import into Evernote.  The great thing is that every image imported into Evernote is searchable, too.  This experience gracefully (relatively) scales across my PC, Mac, iPhone, Motorola RAZR I, Nexus 7, and iPad.  But falls miserably apart on Windows RT and 8.

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Evernote for iOS

Evernote for Windows 8 looks kind of similar, but falls down immeasurably.

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Evernote for Windows 8 Metro

For the first few weeks, Evernote would not sync.  It pulled in one note from each month, then stopped.  Windows RT-based systems would just crash.  About a week ago, the sync feature started working on Windows 8 but still to this day, will not sync and just crashes after a few minutes of sync.

Here is the delta list of what I can do on Windows, OSX, Android and iOS that I cannot do on Windows 8:

  • Sync on opening app
  • Edit a note with any rich text.  Will only append.
  • Adding attachment
  • Edit text font, size, color, bold, italics, strike-through, alignment, bullet, number
  • Adding check-boxes and grids
  • Voice notes
  • View attachments (ie pdf, doc, ppt, xls).  You can see the file and it looks like you can touch it and open, but you cannot.
  • Sync in background (cannot on iOS either)
  • Save searches
  • View by pictures
  • Auto-subject by calendar
  • Paper image clean up
  • View by place (geo-positioned)

As you can see, the list of unsupported features is immense and keeps it from doing anything other than viewing or making very basic notes.  The continued crashed with the Windows RT app is inexcusable.  Judging by the mass of one and two start ratings in the app store, I’d say I’m not alone.  Stay away from Evernote and Windows 8 Metro; they don’t mix well.  Use the desktop app with Windows 8 desktop.

Now, onto Sugarsync.

Sugarsync for Windows 8 Metro

Sugarsync for Windows 7, OSX, Android and iOS enable you to keep your files in sync across devices.  On PC, Mac, and Android, files can be automatically synced in the background, too.  Therefore, every file you have on every device can automatically in sync to view and edit.  This all breaks down on Windows 8.

Sugarsync for iPad

Sugarsync for Windows 8

The Sugarsync experience is equally weak as Evernote.  Again, Sugarsync is multi-platform just like Evernote, but for some reason, they have decided to support a narrower subset than even iOS or Android.  Here is the Windows 8 delta list:

  • Search (no, you cannot search your files, online or offline)
  • Offline access to synced files (you must be connected to have access to documents)
  • Background sync
  • Select all devices synced to Sugarsync
  • Look for recent documents
  • Sort files by date

Finding what you are looking for is nearly impossible as there is not search, sort by date, or recent documents.  I cannot recommend any alternatives because none are better.  Literally, with Windows 8, you are landlocked.

Where to Next?

Evernote and Sugarsync need significant improvement or users will simply not use these apps.   Ironically on Evernote, this type of behavior reminds me how they treated Blackberry OS, which they do not support anymore.  While I don’t believe Evernote will discontinue Windows 8 support, they need to improve quickly and substantially to keep it from becoming naturally extinct.  With Sugarsync, the story is a bit different.  Even Microsoft hasn’t enabled Windows 8 offline storage with SkyDrive and at least with some of their messaging, they are trying to help the user learn how to do some sort of offline updating.  Sugarsync prompts the user to, “If you make changes to this file, please open Sugarsync again to automatically save your updated file to Sugarsync.  This way your updated file will be available across all your other decives [their misspelling] with Sugarsync”.  Very kludgy but at least it’s a way to keep files fresh.

Both companies have had over a year to plan, code and test for Windows 8 and there’s really no explanation other than lack of belief and priority in Windows 8 that explains this.  For the sake of users, I hope the situation is remedied quickly.  At a minimum, can you at least call them “preview”, alpha” or “beta”?

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Patrick Moorhead

Patrick Moorhead was ranked the #1 technology industry analyst by Apollo Research for the U.S. and EMEA in May, 2013.. He is President and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a high tech analyst firm focused on the ecosystem intersections of the phone, tablet, PC, TV, datacenter and cloud. Moorhead departed AMD in 2011 where he served as Corporate Vice President and Corporate Fellow in the strategy group. There, he developed long-term strategies for mobile computing devices and personal computers. In his 11 years at AMD he also led product management, business planning, product marketing, regional marketing, channel marketing, and corporate marketing. Moorhead worked at Compaq Computer Corp. during their run to the #1 market share leader position in personal computers. Moorhead also served as an executive at AltaVista E-commerce during their peak and pioneered cost per click e-commerce models.
  • steve_wildstrom

    I just want to add that if you are running Windows 8 on Intel, you can run the full-featured Desktop versions of SugarSync and Evernote. Of course, this is no help on a Surface or any other Windows RT device that comes along.

  • Rich

    If this were the 1990s you could say “Oh no problem if Windows 8 and everything connected with it were rushed to market in confusion. There’s lots of time to correct the errors.” But this isn’t the 1990s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracemeister Tracie L. Lee

    I am devastated by the lack of features in Windows 8 Evernote. I was just doing notes for a seminar and could not make any bullets, indents, or any of the other things you referenced in your post. I’m glad it wasn’t just me. I’ve also been having significant syncing issues that I do not have on my Nexus 7, Ipad3, or Nook.

  • http://twitter.com/HealyHoops Healy Jones

    I’m pretty sure Windows 8 (in particular RT) make it hard for apps to run in the background. This is tough for sync apps since the end user has to have the app open (i.e. be actively using it) for the app to be allowed to run processes – like sync. It’s kind of a play out of Apple’s iOS sandbox “feature.”

  • http://www.twitter.com/breanna_monique Breanna_Monique

    The Evernote app on Windows 8 is so horrible, I can’t deal. I use Evernote daily, especially for school, but I find myself not using it as much now because it sucks on Windows 8 without question. Onenote seems to be everything Evernote is not, with the exception of no ink notes. Evernote on Windows 8 should be an embarrassment to Evernote as a company. Who gave them the go ahead to release it anyway?