En garde, Evernote! Microsoft announced Monday it is making its note taking and sharing software OneNote available for free, an apparent move against the popular Evernote.

The company also released its OneNote version for Mac for the first time, also for free. In a posting on its Office Blogs, the Microsoft OneNote Team noted that the application is now available on all platforms, in sync and for free, including Android and iOS. Users also receive 7 GB of Microsoft OneDrive storage Relevant Products/Services. Additional features are available for a fee.

A cloud Relevant Products/Services API is also being made available. External applications that interface with OneNote through the API include the browser-based OneNote Clipper for saving Web pages to the program. Sending an e-mail to me@onenote.com will now save it to OneNote quick notes. Office Lens, a Windows Phone app, can now be used to capture documents and whiteboards with a Windows Phone by taking a photo of a document, whiteboard or business Relevant Products/Services card, which is then posted to OneNote Quick Notes.

Document Scanning

Users can also now send blogs and news articles to OneNote from news apps Feedly, News360 and Weave.

There's also now document scanning using scanners from Brother, Doxie Go, Epson and Neat, an ability to write notes with pen and paper and send them to OneNote with LiveScribe smart pen, and mobile Relevant Products/Services document scanning to OneNote using portable scanners Genius Scan and JotNot. Physical notebooks can also be scanned into OneNote using a service called Mod Notebooks that scans paper notebooks to the cloud, and IFTTT (an If This Then That connections tool) can be used to connect to OneNote.

Microsoft announced last week that it will be releasing a new Office for Mac before the end of this year. A company executive told news media that the release had been pushed back because of an organizational restructuring involving the Macintosh Business Unit.

As Microsoft competes with Evernote, one question is whether it will offer greater integration between OneNote and other Microsoft productivity and communications apps -- potentially a huge competitive advantage versus Evernote.

Evernote Enhancements

Evernote has recently announced a series of enhancements to its Windows and Android versions.

Handwriting functionality, which had been available in the iOS version, was added in a release version for Android. It had been offered as a beta in January, and it allows users to write free-form using a finger or a stylus. In 2012, the company had purchased a handwriting app for the iPad called Penultimate.

The Android version also received a note editor enhancement for better handling notes created on other platforms, as well as a new highlighting option. Additionally, the camera function was improved in speed, focus and auto-focus.

For the Windows version of Evernote, an annotation tool was added that allows a user to mark up a photo or a graphic in a note. The capability had also been available in the iOS version, and was based on technology acquired when Evernote purchased the popular annotation tool Skitch in 2011.