If you have been using Hotmail/Outlook.com for email, you would have noticed that the email, contacts and SkyDrive interfaces are all uniform, designed along the Metro principles of letting the content stand out and moving all unnecessary chrome and controls out of the way. One service which was still bearing the old Hotmail/Live look was the Calendar.
The Calendar was left in the old format for some strange reason even after Outlook.com left preview and became “production” recently. One of the early comments made by Microsoft about Calendar was that they observed that most people use the Calendar on mobile devices or via desktop applications and not the website, and hence they prioritized the Calendar update lower.
However, for those who got used to using the Outlook.com web interface (partly because it is so beautiful and functional), started feeling the eyesore that was Calendar. Until April 2.
Over on Office Blogs, David Dennis announced the new Outlook.com Calendar was finally available at http://calendar.live.com. Some of the salient features of the new Calendar are:
- The fresh/modern/Metro design. Finally in line with the email, contacts and storage services.
- Easier navigation and usage. The web app works much like a desktop application with drag across time periods to create an event, incorporating tasks within the same page as calendar, clicking to add/edit events, etc.
- If you connect your Microsoft account to Skype, LinkedIn and Facebook, you will automatically see birthdays (and other events) from those services in your calendar.
- Granular (but easy to use) privacy controls for sharing calendars and parts of calendars.
- Shared calendars with change notifications, enabling scenarios where parents share calendars and get notified when one or the other changes/adds events.
Overall, this is a much-needed and highly delayed change which finally makes the “Windows Services” consisting of Outlook.com email, Outlook.com Calendar, People and SkyDrive appear like a suite of services made by the same company.
There are still some features available in other services like Google Calendar that are missing from Outlook.com Calendar, but here’s hoping that with this “big” update out of the way, the Calendar team will get more resources to focus on adding functionality to the Calendar, and enhancing how it interacts with the rest of the products in the Microsoft portfolio like Bing.
Do you use Hotmail Calendar? Have you been upgraded to the new version? What are your thoughts?
Image courtesy Office Blogs.