Microsoft 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?