Hotmail was updated this week as part of the Wave 3 rollout. When the Live Calendar Wave 3 update rolled a couple of weeks ago we got a good idea of what the UI for the new Hotmail would look like. I like the cleaner look a lot. In my previous post about the Client pieces of Wave 3 I commented that the UI change on the client didn’t do much for me. That is not the case with the UI changes for Hotmail and Calendar, I like the changes a lot. The performance as promised by the team seems great.
The search feature worked great – sweeping quickly through my mail collection to find matching items. I couldn’t find a way to make it only search a specific folder which I like as an option to constrain search results from time to time.
One glitch to note is that with IE8 when trying to switch to Calendar it opens a new window. With FF3 the Calendar view shows up in the same window that Hotmail was showing in as I would prefer and expect. Not sure if that is a problem with how IE8 is working for me specifically or if that is the anticipated behavior for IE8 – I hope not!
I have a couple of gripes about contacts to air, but they really stem from the fact that I love what they have done to the Contacts view. There has been some great work done there. Not all the integration is available to us at this point I am assuming because in blog postings about the upgrade from the Hotmail team I could see People showing up on their Wave 3 header and that doesn’t show up on mine (although People does show up on the Contacts page as the “title” for that page. You have a better breakdown of all your contacts versus who is a Messenger contact. You get to see their profile pictures and when you click on it you can send them a Spaces message, IM them, email them, or view their contact information. When I try to IM them Live Messenger comes up from what has been written I would expect a Web version of Messenger would be displayed for you to chat with the contact if Live Messenger wasn’t installed on the system.
The Contact Info page is awesome in my opinion. I love the Recent email listing sitting at the bottom. The ability to quickly fire off an email to them embedded inline in the Contact page works really well for me (from a UI layout perspective that is – I never doubted that it would actually send an email to the person). I went to my Gmail account to compare the UIs quickly. Visually Hotmail was much cleaner to me – looks more polished as well. All in all a much better UI look than Gmail IMO. Back to the Contact page I LOVE that I can see a contacts permissions across Windows Live properties. I can tell what Calendar permissions they have, what Skydrive folders they have access to (can wait for Skydrive and Live Mesh to have some integration story), and Profile information of mine they have access to as well as the same information about what I have access to of theirs. It surprises me that I can’t edit those permissions from that screen – that enhancement would be Request #1. Request #2 is that I would like to be able to sort my contact list in other ways than by name. The main one that come to mind is by Status (Available, Offline, etc…). There seems to be no effective way to see easily who is Online for example without selecting the Messenger Contacts option (since that is above the Category section it would seem to be considered something different than a Category) and then scanning the list which isn’t easy or effective. Once again well done on the Contacts interface I love it.
The Calendar Wave 3 upgrade rolled out a couple of weeks ago or so. I talked briefly about it or referred to it is a more appropriate description in my previous post on the Wave 3 Clients. I love the interface. Clean and focused. I love that To-Dos have made their appearance and with them being connected to a Calendar that concept of a shared task list etc… is really nice and MS has definitely one upped Google in this space. With the subscription to ICS files worked out etc… my wife and I have started using this heavily. We sync them to Outlook and update them in Outlook using Outlook Connector and that works wonderfully as well. Calendar has made huge strides and now stands as a worthy competitor to Google Calendar. That said I do have a few requests of course!
First – a way to search through your calendar – neither the online edition or the Live Mail Client exposed a way to search for future appointments. Google Calendar has this and it is very handy – definitely a must have. Second is To-Dos syncing down to the various Clients (Outlook or Live Mail). I was disappointed that Live Mail didn’t have this with Wave 3. I realize that there is a level of difficulty in matching Client capabilities with Server capabilities, but if the Clients are always going lag the Servers in functionality that is going to be a big disappointment. Especially if new releases have the long lead times that Wave 3 has had. Lastly, Recurring To-Dos! I was surprised since we can add recurring events that recurring tasks weren’t available. I use them heavily with Outlook and could never replace my To-Do tools without having recurring tasks. You would also have to have that if you wanted to support a sync scenario with Windows Mobile. I suppose that is truly my last request. Windows Live for mobile has worked great for my email and contacts. Obviously the last two pieces are Tasks and Calendar items. Calendar is probably to the point where it may be possible to add that syncing capability. Tasks/To-do synchronization with Windows Mobile will have to wait until we get recurring tasks. I am not sure why I see a banner add on my Calendar. I have a Hotmail Plus subscription and so I don’t see it on the Hotmail screen or on my Spaces site, but do see it on Calendar – that would seem to be a bug as I would expect it not to be there – am I wrong on that?
Additional requests aside I am very pleased with the server upgrades to Windows Live (much more so than the Client upgrades frankly). I am very excited and hopefully to see similar good things with the upgrades to Spaces, Photos, etc…
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