That thing about Calendar

By Kip Kniskern | Posted February 21, 2013 32 comments

Windows_Live_Calendar_logoMicrosoft took the Preview tag off of Outlook.com this week, and told us to “stay tuned” for an update to Calendar, the long overdue “modern” update to one of the last remnants we have of the Windows Live look.  While we have no more idea than you do about when a new Calendar will appear, we know that it’s almost sure to be derided as “late and lame”.  Commenters here and elsewhere have been clamoring for a new calendar ever since Outlook.com first appeared last July, and internet companies have been Kickstarted, pivoted, and snapped up as acquisitions in less time that it’s taken to give Calendar a facelift.  We’re either going to get the world’s greatest internet calendar (yeah right), or we’re going to be disappointed, as Microsoft continues to refuse to work at any kind of an internet scale pace.

A few weeks ago in an article in the New York Times,  David Pogue offered some thoughts on “Bringing the Calendar Up to Date”.  The post was brought on in part by frustrations with Windows 8’s calendar:

Take the new Calendar app in Windows 8. So much of Windows 8’s touch-screen mode is modern, updated and fresh — color, gestures, typography — that you’d expect an equally modernized calendar app at its heart.

Wow, would you be wrong. Listen, Microsoft: 1990 called. It wants its calendar back.

You can’t drag vertically through the Day-view column to create an appointment. You can’t drag an appointment to reschedule it. You can’t record an auto-repeating appointment like “Monday, Wednesday, Friday” or “first Tuesday of the month.”

And incredibly, you can’t create separate categories, like Home, Work and Social. There’s no way to color-code your appointments or hide certain categories.

Pogue goes on to describe a number of other calendar systems, noting that “(e)ach one seems to have evolved on its own Galápagos island”.  He then goes on to list a number of features all modern digital calendars should have (check it out, it’s quite a list), and ends with a final thought:

The world’s software makers have made great strides helping us manage our money, our phone numbers and our files. Now how about equal time for time?

Back in the day, when Windows Live was first starting out, word was that the folks at MSN/Windows Live would “teach Windows how to ship”, and to iterate every two months or so.  Instead, of course, Windows taught Windows Live/Windows Services how to procrastinate and delay, coming late to nearly every party they’ve been invited.  We’ve been promised updates to Calendar more times that we can count, and to be honest we’re almost dreading the thought of another shiny but barely functional “v1” attempt at a calendar, starting over once again after five years of fits and starts with Windows Live.

If Microsoft is to move to a “devices and services” model, it needs to ship world class apps and services at internet speed, something that it has never shown an ability to do.  And yet here we are, seven months after the launch of the Outlook.com Preview, with that preview tag having come and gone, and still no Calendar.  As David Pogue noted, the world is waiting for a next generation calendar.  Can Microsoft deliver?

Posted February 21st, 2013 at 10:29 am
Category: Opinion
Tags: Calendar
  • http://twitter.com/surilamin surilamin

    It just makes no logical sense why calendar hasn’t been updated for this long. Great editorial Kip.

  • http://twitter.com/surilamin surilamin

    It just makes no logical sense why calendar hasn’t been updated for this long. Great editorial Kip.

  • Nathan Castle

    This is almost enough to get me to switch to google, and I use Microsoft for nearly everything. This Calendar stuff is BS.

    • ericesque

      I’m a half step closer than “almost enough”. I just cleaned up my gmail account just in case…

    • Gilberto Boabaid

      I agree with you. It seems Microsoft is putting all of its efforts into getting people to leave their services and switch to Google. During the time I’m waiting for the calendar update for Outlook, I am testing a Google Account for nearly everything I need. And I am very pleased with the experience.

  • Nathan Castle

    This is almost enough to get me to switch to google, and I use Microsoft for nearly everything. This Calendar stuff is BS.

    • ericesque

      I’m a half step closer than “almost enough”. I just cleaned up my gmail account just in case…

    • Gilberto Boabaid

      I agree with you. It seems Microsoft is putting all of its efforts into getting people to leave their services and switch to Google. During the time I’m waiting for the calendar update for Outlook, I am testing a Google Account for nearly everything I need. And I am very pleased with the experience.

  • http://www.slythefox.com/ LorenzoA

    I posted this on a recent Outlook Blog post about the preview of outlook being dropped. No response. I’m tired of their promised of being agile. They haven’t been.

  • http://www.slythefox.com LorenzoA

    I posted this on a recent Outlook Blog post about the preview of outlook being dropped. No response. I’m tired of their promised of being agile. They haven’t been.

  • idondon

    Look at the bright side, they could have held back outlook.com until everything was complete, and besides we don’t know what type of development staff they have available. It could be the same staff that developed mail interface and in that case you cant expect them to have a fully developed product in a short amount of time.

  • idondon

    Look at the bright side, they could have held back outlook.com until everything was complete, and besides we don’t know what type of development staff they have available. It could be the same staff that developed mail interface and in that case you cant expect them to have a fully developed product in a short amount of time.

  • bricko

    Well, how about a professional level calendar app for the Winphone 8 also. The standard one sucks. Where is the pro level PIM such as Pocket Informant? At least I found Chronos Calendar that actually looks like a calendar rather then black and white line drawings. But we need an active PIM such as ACT or Lotus Organizer back in the early days…or how about an actual OUTLOOK app on the phone. With calendar that looks like a calendar

  • bricko

    Well, how about a professional level calendar app for the Winphone 8 also. The standard one sucks. Where is the pro level PIM such as Pocket Informant? At least I found Chronos Calendar that actually looks like a calendar rather then black and white line drawings. But we need an active PIM such as ACT or Lotus Organizer back in the early days…or how about an actual OUTLOOK app on the phone. With calendar that looks like a calendar

  • chinch987

    it seems clear that Calendar did NOT ship for exactly this reason. The old hideous one has most of the needed features.

    Anyone using WP or Win8 calendar knows repeating events is an issue and they need to work the metro UI to handle this. Now they have CalDev support to further delay this lame group of coders badly in need of managmement & speed.

  • chinch987

    it seems clear that Calendar did NOT ship for exactly this reason. The old hideous one has most of the needed features.

    Anyone using WP or Win8 calendar knows repeating events is an issue and they need to work the metro UI to handle this. Now they have CalDev support to further delay this lame group of coders badly in need of managmement & speed.

  • JSYOUNG571

    This is why Microsoft continues to stay behind. The Time release schedule always seems to be a curse for them. By the time they complete something, it is always too late. Competition will have moved onto the next level.

  • JSYOUNG571

    This is why Microsoft continues to stay behind. The Time release schedule always seems to be a curse for them. By the time they complete something, it is always too late. Competition will have moved onto the next level.

  • Sovereign108

    I too am fed up with Microsoft’s snail pace at development! Trouble is I am locked in to my Windows Contract for quite some time. I did that hotmail rename service (change to @outlook.com) and lost all my email! This was several months ago and they haven’t done a thing to fix it. My gmail account, on the other hand, works admirably!

  • Aashish Sharma

    I too am fed up with Microsoft’s snail pace at development! Trouble is I am locked in to my Windows Contract for quite some time. I did that hotmail rename service (change to @outlook.com) and lost all my email! This was several months ago and they haven’t done a thing to fix it. My gmail account, on the other hand, works admirably!

  • zeke009

    You guys seem to be working under an assumption that is very inaccurate. That assumption being “MS has tons of resources sitting idle while the calendar is left behind”. I’d wager they haven’t touched the calendar because their resources were working on more important items. The calendar is important to Hotmail, but it is likely low on the list when compared to the rest of the tasks the team has.

    I say this because some uninformed knucklehead just came knocking on my virtual door at work demanding I drop everything I am working on to focus on his wants and over inflated sense of importance. He can wait until I clear the tasks prioritized by my management, whether he likes it or not.

    • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

      Well, I agree and disagree with you Zeke. While I’m sure Microsoft isn’t just sitting idle figuring out what to do with calendar, it’s hardly an unimportant piece of the puzzle. Even if it’s just important to the image that Outlook.com and SkyDrive provide a cohesive brand and user experience. Whether or not anyone actually uses the web-based UI is less important than not providing Google and other detractors with ammunition about how piecemeal and ramshackle the services feel. It’s all about perception, man.

    • Barry Cho

      You sound like an insider.

      • zeke009

        LOL, there are days I’d much rather be a project manager working for MS trying to prioritize updates like this. My task right now is I am one of a couple project managers trying to migrate a company with just over 100,000 devices to Windows 7 by the end of the year. This past week brought not 1, but 2 knuckleheads to my virtual door who told me their team was more important than any other and I should work on theirs immediately.

        I’ve also lost some of the best and brightest resources in the company to another project that is more important. So while the migration has to continue, we have to continue with a tiny staff because we lost people to a bigger more important project.

  • zeke009

    You guys seem to be working under an assumption that is very inaccurate. That assumption being “MS has tons of resources sitting idle while the calendar is left behind”. I’d wager they haven’t touched the calendar because their resources were working on more important items. The calendar is important to Hotmail, but it is likely low on the list when compared to the rest of the tasks the team has.

    I say this because some uninformed knucklehead just came knocking on my virtual door at work demanding I drop everything I am working on to focus on his wants and over inflated sense of importance. He can wait until I clear the tasks prioritized by my management, whether he likes it or not.

    • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com Greg Edwards

      Well, I agree and disagree with you Zeke. While I’m sure Microsoft isn’t just sitting idle figuring out what to do with calendar, it’s hardly an unimportant piece of the puzzle. Even if it’s just important to the image that Outlook.com and SkyDrive provide a cohesive brand and user experience. Whether or not anyone actually uses the web-based UI is less important than not providing Google and other detractors with ammunition about how piecemeal and ramshackle the services feel. It’s all about perception, man.

    • Barry Cho

      You sound like an insider.

      • zeke009

        LOL, there are days I’d much rather be a project manager working for MS trying to prioritize updates like this. My task right now is I am one of a couple project managers trying to migrate a company with just over 100,000 devices to Windows 7 by the end of the year. This past week brought not 1, but 2 knuckleheads to my virtual door who told me their team was more important than any other and I should work on theirs immediately.

        I’ve also lost some of the best and brightest resources in the company to another project that is more important. So while the migration has to continue, we have to continue with a tiny staff because we lost people to a bigger more important project.

  • TheRickshaw

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think when the calendar gets updated it’s going to have some killer functionality. They probably underestimated what it would take to “re-imagine” their cloud calendar. MS has implemented calendars so many times, all over the place, they were probably ready to pull their hair out if they didn’t get to do something a little different. They don’t lack experience or long lists of done-to-death features.

  • TheRickshaw

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think when the calendar gets updated it’s going to have some killer functionality. They probably underestimated what it would take to “re-imagine” their cloud calendar. MS has implemented calendars so many times, all over the place, they were probably ready to pull their hair out if they didn’t get to do something a little different. They don’t lack experience or long lists of done-to-death features.

  • Guest

    My calendar is completely offline, getting errors connecting to calendar.live.com … is it wrong that I’m getting my hopes up because a site goes offline?

  • davidmk

    My calendar is completely offline, getting errors connecting to calendar.live.com … is it wrong that I’m getting my hopes up because a site goes offline?