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Mail, Calendar, and People apps all get subtle improvements

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is preparing for the launch of Windows Blue later this year, but in the meantime it's freshening Windows 8 with a series of updates to its core apps.  Mail, People, and Calendar hubs all receive minor makeovers today.  And while the changes are unlikely to change the minds of Windows 8's detractors, they're a welcome improvement for those who have adopted the new-look Microsoft OS.

The new apps all fall under the umbrella of a single "Unified Communications" app.

The email (Mail) update includes new smart algorithms to predict contacts based on your most frequent contacts and smarter search algorithms.  Flagging/filtering options have also been refined, making it easier to only see unread messages or alternatively to start flagging junk mail.  Lastly, there's a new message editor that adds things like easy options for hyperlink or list insertion.

The People app includes subtle improvements that make it easier to filter or post content to Facebook, Inc.'s (FB) ubiquitous social network.  The Calendar app includes a new workweek option.  Both the Calendar and People apps are more tightly integrated into Mail to make choosing contacts or sending event invitations easier.

Today's update is being delivered via the Windows Store.  Reportedly more app refreshes may follow the Unified Communications update, according to ZDNet.

Windows 8 app refresh
Mail is among the refreshed apps.

Some in the Bing AppEx team, which maintains the Weather, News, and Sports -- are reportedly looking to refresh its lineup.  And Xbox Entertainment app will reportedly be refreshed later this month or early next month, improving the music and gaming options.

It looks like you may not have to wait until Windows Blue to start experience some of Microsoft's "lessons learned".  Keep your eye on the Windows Store today for the update and in the next couple weeks for the Xbox app follow-up.

Sources: Microsoft, ZDNet



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RE: Interest lacking
By LordSojar on 3/26/2013 12:14:15 PM , Rating: 5
Except that Windows ME was plagued with bugs and crashes. Win8 isn't, and is amazingly stable and one of the fastest OSes on the planet at this point in time. Comparing the two is rather dumb. The comparison to Vista is also stupid since Vista was a bloated, hardware engulfing monstrosity when it first launched with little to no developer insight prior to launch. Windows 8 also is the exact opposite in that regard, with a very transparent developer opportunity well in advance of launch as well as extremely lean hardware requirements and very low system usage.

So... the primary issue that people have is that the Start Page is a bonkers and that they want the Start Bar back. Personally, I have a love hate affair with the Start Page. It's search functionality is amazing, especially with search spreading throughout the entire subset of system options and other apps/online. However, it is disruptive to the user experience at this time, and Microsoft needs to desperately group things in the All Apps view so that it's not a clusterfrack of garbage readme's etc. They need to tweak the UI to be more mouse and keyboard oriented as an option on desktops and lastly, they simply need to allow for custom tile creation, backgrounds, etc. The preview of Blue shows a full color changer, which is a welcomed addition, and expansion of the PC Settings menu to be far more useful, so that's good though.

Change is tough kids, but progress marches on. Microsoft has done an aggressive move that may or may not be to your liking, but at least they're trying to push the advancement of touchscreens heavily, which in my book, is a great thing.


RE: Interest lacking
By Mint on 3/26/2013 2:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
they simply need to allow for custom tile creation, backgrounds, etc.
I think this will go a long way. It's purely aesthetic, but we shouldn't be a need to use a third party app to make nice looking tiles for desktop shortcuts.

This points to the subtle blunder MS made with Windows 8 marketing. They should have pointed out how easy it is to use the Start Page to launch desktop-only apps, and maybe having an auto tiler for Win7 upgraders.


RE: Interest lacking
By vanadiel on 3/26/2013 5:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
Let me know when the Windows business applications like office run under Metro (or whatever it is currently called) instead of plain desktop.

If Microsoft would have really been interested in doing it right the first time, they would have completely removed the desktop and rely 100% on Metro.

Alas, they did not and decided to have an Operating system that is a hybrid between a desktop and a touch screen interface.


RE: Interest lacking
By mike66 on 3/26/2013 7:07:07 PM , Rating: 2
Windows ME was plagued with bugs and crashes
The main problem was a memory handling issue, If you used greater than 128mb of RAM then it would have all sorts of problems, after a quick regedit it would behave very nicely, simple fix but in those days there was a greater expectation that programs and OS's should be made correctly before release instead of updating and patching all the time. Win7 was relatively bug free when released and that went a very long way to it being so popular, MS could have easily left the start menu and left the choice of which interface to use depending on which devices it is used on. Win8 is good on a touch screen but fails on a desktop monitor. I as a Techy am listening to the none techies I help, most want the start button and menu the way it was and either want me to patch win8 or downgrade to win7 because they aren't using a touch screen.


RE: Interest lacking
By deathwombat on 3/27/2013 8:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
For years I've never understood why people claim that Windows Me was unstable. I used it for years before switching to XP and it didn't crash any more often than 95 or 98 did. I remember people telling me "everyone I know says that Windows Me sucks", but I don't think I ever met anyone who used it. I suspect it's the same as people who bashed Vista without using it.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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