Microsoft writes ponderous, lengthy, and hard-to-understand blog posts about Windows 8 and then I explain what they’re saying in plain English. In the latest post in this series, I look at this week’s Building Windows 8 blog post about the Calendar app, Microsoft’s connected calendar management solution.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
Steven Sinofsky writes:
“This post builds on the Mail app and People app posts, and details the Calendar app. We’ve worked hard to integrate these apps together into a seamless communication suite that connects to the cloud services most important to you. This post details the integration with Windows 8, some of the features in the current preview, and features on the way. We also look at a little bit of the design history and iteration as some background.”
The Mail, People, and Calendar (and Messaging) app are inexplicably connected in Windows 8: You must install them all, and cannot pick between them. Microsoft apparently agonized over what I see as fairly obvious design decisions.
Here’s what the post really says…
Microsoft made a calendar app for Windows 8. Despite some protestations to the contrary, this is a fairly straightforward type of app, and Calendar is a very basic rendition of such an app.
Calendar should work for home, work and student schedules, should be quick and efficient, should make it easy to make new events, should alert you when something is happening, and should make it easy to change existing events.
Showing your life clearly
Calendar should tell you what’s happening next and what’s happening today.
Microsoft ignored the lure of adding “extra bells and whistles” and instead just created an obvious Calendar app.
Making lemonade: Thus, Calendar doesn’t include key functionality you expect because you’ve used it in other calendar apps.
Calendar is (somewhat) customizable. You can change the color of individual calendars, just as you can in other calendar apps.
What they aren’t saying: There’s no obvious way to navigate to a specific date.
Calendar provides three views: Month, Week, and Day (which is really “Today plus the next one or two days,” depending on the size, resolution, and pixel density of your screen). These views are in the app bar and thus hidden by default.
Making it easy to get around
Like all other calendar apps, Calendar includes navigational controls for moving “through time.”
Swipe once left to go back one month or once right to go forward one month (in Month view).
Making it easy to add new plans
To add a new event, just tap (or click) once on the appropriate place in the calendar, just like in all other calendar apps.
Keeping you on time
You can set reminders for any event and get a pop-up “toast” notification—or what this post, for the first time, calls a “lightweight popup,” at the appropriate time.
What they aren’t saying: That notification toast doesn’t let you snooze the reminder. Just one of many little useful “bells and whistles” they left out.
The Calendar app’s live tile shows you information about upcoming events.
What they only allude to: The Windows 8 lock screen supports two types of app pinning: “quick status and notifications” and “detailed status.” The Calendar app is one of only a few apps that can provided “detailed status,” which means you get the actual event details, and not just a number explaining how many events you have for the day. I recommend associating the lock screen’s “detailed status” on the lock screen to the Calendar app.
Like every other Metro app, the Calendar app can be snapped to the left or right edge of the screen.
Ready to do more
For some reason, Microsoft felt the need to repeat that the Calendar app supports three views: Month, Week, and Day. It incorrectly describes Day as “Two Day” view. It can in fact be “Three Day View,” depending on the capabilities of your PC’s screen. Oops.
You can paste information into an event in Calendar just like you can in any other calendar app.
Put simply, the Calendar app is basic, works well for what it does, but leaves out some obviously useful features. It will no doubt get better over time.