Windows Live Calendar first impressions: We do some “testing” of our own

By Kip Kniskern | Posted November 4, 2007 15 comments

While it isn’t out ”officially” yet, Windows Live Calendar popped up for the first time on Friday evening and it’s been up steadily here ever since (but only on some accounts).  Some of our readers haven’t been able to access it at all, some have with no problems, and some have had intermittent success, as was expected due to the “testing” nature of the early release.  Expect an announcement (and more stable availability) as early as Monday.  Until then, here’s a quick little tour.

From http://calendar.live.com, opening up the calendar is quick and easy, just sign in from a Windows Live ID and you’re in.
(this will take you to Hotmail and the MSN calendar if you don’t have the beta available)

calnew

From there it is easy to add event by clicking on a date or time on the calendar, or additionally you can create a new calendar or a new Spaces Event.

Features –

  • Create multiple calendars – specify name, color. Day/Week/Month/Agenda views.
  • Reminders – Receive a daily email message reminding you of the scheduled events – customizable on a per calendar basis. Alternatively receive reminders for pre-selected events only. Also can set the reminder time to be before the start of an event and customize how they are delivered via Windows Live Alerts.
  • Share your calendar. Using Live IDs you can allow people to view or edit your calendar, similar to granting access to your Spaces or SkyDrive folders. Default views vary from requiring a Live ID signin, to a private link you can email to people, through to a fully public and searchable calendar. This is extended by the new Co-Owner role, which essentially allows another user to control a calendar, though they are unable to change the published web address or delete it.
  • Calendars can also be shared via xml, providing feed reader compatibility, as well as offering ICS support.
  • Can import ICS files which provides support for Outlook and Google Calendar. Either into a new calendar or an existing calendar. From here you can chose to overwrite duplicate events with the newer details, or keep the previously imported events and only import new items. Useful if you want to manually update your online calendar from another calendar.

However there’s a lot that Windows Live Calendar can’t do, at least not at this early stage.

  • There’s no synch feature, of any kind, except for shared calendars.  Not being able to synch to Outlook or mobile devices is a showstopper. However we’ve heard they are working on this, so stay tuned.
  • Printing is woefully inadequate, with only the ability to print an agenda view. More work to be done here, surely.
  • No import from MSN Calendar, or interaction between the two.
  • Overall look and feel is very basic.  Clean, but basic.  Maybe that’s nice.  Going to be lots of clamoring for custom backgrounds, colors, etc, however.

As expected, the sharing features, leveraging Windows Live ID, offers multiple layers of control:

sharecal3

Sharing as XML certainly opens up some interesting possibilities, and as one of our readers pointed out, with a link pointing to Windows Live downloads a desktop client a la Windows Live Mail (or as a part of the Live Mail desktop client) would make Calendar quite a bit more interesting.

sharecal4

Many ready to use calendars are available, which can be easily imported into Windows Live Calendar.  Here are a few from the calendar beta website:

  • United States Holidays
  • United Kingdom Holidays
  • India Holidays

Sporting events, TV shows, local goings–on, and more—import them all to your Windows Live Calendar! Simply visit the website of your favorite sports team or television show, where you’ll often find an Add to Calendar link ending with .ics. Right-click this link, and save it to your Desktop.

Get calendars from iCalShare

Get calendars from CalendarData.com

We’ve been waiting to get our hands on Windows Live Calendar for a long time, since we first mentioned it over a year ago. While lots of work has been done under the hood, making future improvements possible, first impressions are that there’s a lot of work still to come regarding features.  At this point Google Calendar is a clear leader in features, but we’ll be keeping a close watch, as usual. 

Posted November 4th, 2007 at 2:30 pm
Category: News
Tags: Calendar, Windows Live
  • stephenophof

    It says:

    “Internal Server Error
    Windows Live Calendar is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later. ”

    ???

  • WyzyrdMyrrlyn

    pity it only works on certain bays–mine worked friday and saturday, then failed today. at least it comes out on all bays tomorrow–they do still need lots of features though. hope they add a lot of stuff!

  • variaas

    here’s another missing feature:
    when in the weekly view you can create items by click/dragging from a start to end time. But you can’t cross multiple days.

  • Chris

    Yes the availability is still limited unfortunately :(

  • Mephiles

    I bet I will have it by next week? Is it US only?

  • quikboy

    Does Live Calendar do anything more better than Google Calendar, or iCal for that matter?

    Does it do anything more better than those 2? Or is it just a plain regular calendar app.? I’m curious.

  • Khristopher

    I find it silly that it can import a Google calendar, but not an MSN calendar.

  • AndyD

    I am wondering if you had to sign in during the period that it was public in order to be able to still access it?

    I tried with my @windowslive.com ID that I signed in with on Friday, and it still works.

    I tried my @live.com ID and it doesn’t work.

    I tried my @hotmail.com ID and it also doesn’t work.

    Maybe it was a limited time access thing?

    Just a theory.

  • Red Robin

    I am in agreement with AndyD. I got in Friday. A few hours later I decided to set up my wife’s account to the calendar beta so we could share calendars, but I never could get signed up with her account. I haven’t ever had a problem with mine, so it may be just a window of opportunity of just a few hours Friday night.

  • Drazick

    Did they add B-Day alert for contacts?

    Thanks.

  • joeale

    It work just fine four me.Iam still use it and have got my friends use it thay love it.

  • someone

    Very inconvenient if you are using Windows Live Mail. Have to go online for the calendar.

  • DavidK

    Well I unsuccessfully tried to import an ICS file from my Google calendar.

    I’m sure the notepad and task-list will make their way into the new calendar.

    Google has beaten them to market with a good calendar service, and their task-list is in the making.

    I hate it… I really do… but Google’s got the competition beat in terms of web service offerings!

    =(

  • Jamie

    Something i really can’t wait for!

  • BV2312

    site down? as it doesn’t even redirect to calendar.msn.com just says page can not be displayed…