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Posted

Microsoft is preparing some major updates to its built-in Windows 8 applications on Tuesday. The company is refreshing its communication apps: mail, calendar, and people. In our review of Windows 8 we found that the new built-in apps were significantly lacking functionality, and the performance of them on the Surface RT tablet was poor. Microsoft is attempting to address both of these issues this week.

Mail

The focus is really on mail with this round of updates. Speaking with The Verge, Windows user experience program manager Kip Knox explained that Microsoft recognises the importance of mail, calendaring, and contacts. "Since we shipped Windows 8 we've been working hard on this update," he reveals. The update includes some features and functionality that really should have been part of the original release, but at least Microsoft is starting to correct that. Folder creation, deletion, and renaming is now supported, alongside a filter that brings up unread messages.

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Mail should sync a lot faster and more reliably says Knox, with a new feature to let users to mark mail as spam. With Gmail this will move the message to the spam folder, but with Outlook.com it will do the same and also alert Microsoft's spam filter about the mail to ensure a similar one isn't placed in the inbox in future. Flagging is now supported too, with a filter to view all flagged messages. One of the bigger improvements is search. You can now search all mail on the server, which brings up results regardless of the amount of email you have synced with your device.

Mail finally gets decent draft support and speed improvements

Microsoft has also improved the compose messages part of mail. Surface RT users will be able to create messages a lot quicker, and the mail client will now automatically provide contact suggestions based on the number of times you email certain people. Draft messages has also been greatly improved. When you back out of an email message, mail will automatically save a draft and show it inline with the rest of your messages. There's no way to turn this behaviour off, but you can go through the drafts folder to delete individual drafts. You'll also be able to paste in formatted charts a lot more reliably, and edit bulleted or numbered lists more easily. Adding, editing, and deleting hyperlinks is now supported too.

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Other minor improvements include the ability to delete all messages in a folder or mark them as read, an option to save senders as new contacts, and support to send email from an Outlook.com alias. Microsoft is also building in information rights management email support for business users, allowing them to securely send email attachments and read encrypted ones.

Calendar

On the calendar side, Microsoft has made some tweaks to the UI to improve readability. Font sizes and colors have been improved, and a new work week view lets you focus on Monday to Friday to find appointments. Calendar now includes the current time in day and week view that's displayed inline against your appointments. You can also forward meeting invitations and check the availability of attendees. Recurrence options for meetings have also been improved, with the ability to set end dates for recurring events.

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Microsoft is removing Google Calendar support

One major change in calendar is the removal of Google sync support. "As of this update we will switch all Gmail accounts over to IMAP, we have to," says Knox. Microsoft currently supports Exchange ActiveSync for Google accounts in mail, calendar, and people, but Google has dropped this support for new devices. The app update will remove calendar support for Google, but Windows 8 users will still be able to add Gmail contacts to the people hub. Knox refused to comment on any plans for CalDAV support, which Windows Phone will soon support, so it looks like Windows 8 users will be left out in the cold if they want Google Calendar support natively in Windows 8. It's a disappointing result for users, regardless if you blame Google for the support removal or Microsoft for not implementing CalDAV and CardDAV support sooner.

People

The people app isn't getting any significant improvements with this round of updates, but Microsoft is taking the opportunity to tweak some parts. A new filter will let you control the content of the "what's new feed" by picking social networks, and navigation has been improved with clearer options when the app bar is enabled. A new change on the Facebook integration side lets you post directly to a friend's wall, handy if you use the app for Facebook at all. Finally, Microsoft is also building in support for its Active Directory Global Address List (GAL) for business users.

people.jpg

Solid improvements, but still more required

Overall the changes are major for mail users, with a host of improvements and performance enhancements that make the app a lot more usable. Although Messenger is part of the core communications apps, Microsoft isn't updating this app at all. It's unclear how the company plans to manage its Skype and Messenger merger, but given the Messenger app seems redundant now we'd expect it to disappear in time. Skype now supports Messenger conversations and having two apps support identical scenarios seems confusing and unnecessary.

However, Microsoft refuses to comment on its plans for the Windows 8 Messenger app. The built-in Windows 8 apps will all be available in the Windows Store by Tuesday, but If Google Calendar support is essential to you then you might want to hold off updating. The unclear CalDAV support situation leaves users in limbo, so Microsoft needs to reveal its plans before people are left with questions. Despite this, the mail improvements are significant enough make an update worthwhile, and we're hopeful that Microsoft will continue to improve the rest of its apps very soon.

http://www.theverge....ple-app-updates

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Posted

Thanks for the info. . . :)

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Posted

WHAT ABOUT MUSIC????

*ahem*

Sorry, just the one thing about my Surface that I absolutely LOATHE.

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Posted

It also sounds like the Xbox music app update is almost done as well. We could get that and other updates to the rest of the core apps after these first ones.

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Posted

disappointing :/

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Posted

Chat needs to be more of an iChat type app. Needs to support Jabber (which will support facebook and Google Talk).

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Posted

Plain text e-mails? Copying material from an Excel spreadsheet into a draft message without the entire thing turning into a ****ing mess?

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Posted

Am I correct here in thinking that Google extended the support for Calendar ActiveSync to continue working until July 31, yet Microsoft is yanking the Google Calendar option now, but not adding in CalDAV support in?

So Google was screwing customers, then gave more time so Microsoft could support the new way Google was forcing people onto, now Microsoft is screwing customers by yanking the option early and not adding in the new way Google offers? :dizzy:

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Posted

Am I correct here in thinking that Google extended the support for Calendar ActiveSync to continue working until July 31, yet Microsoft is yanking the Google Calendar option now, but not adding in CalDAV support in?

So Google was screwing customers, then gave more time so Microsoft could support the new way Google was forcing people onto, now Microsoft is screwing customers by yanking the option early and not adding in the new way Google offers? :dizzy:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/30/3933246/google-windows-phone-exchange-activesync-extension-july

Pretty much

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Posted

Am I correct here in thinking that Google extended the support for Calendar ActiveSync to continue working until July 31, yet Microsoft is yanking the Google Calendar option now, but not adding in CalDAV support in?

So Google was screwing customers, then gave more time so Microsoft could support the new way Google was forcing people onto, now Microsoft is screwing customers by yanking the option early and not adding in the new way Google offers? :dizzy:

There is no new way, you must have missed the part where after Google made all the noise about using CalDAV because it's open they then shortly decided not to bother and stick to their own in-house calendar API. When Google can make up it's mind for good then Microsoft can add support for their services.

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Posted

When Google can make up it's mind for good then Microsoft can add support for their services.

Support is already there...MS is just ending it before the July 31st deadline.

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Posted

Support is already there...MS is just ending it before the July 31st deadline.

The EAS support ends July sure, the point is that they're not moving or supporting CalDAV either. In the end you will either lose support now or two months from now, the end result is the same. Even when MS adds support for CalDAV and so on it won't matter it seems.

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Posted

Am I correct here in thinking that Google extended the support for Calendar ActiveSync to continue working until July 31, yet Microsoft is yanking the Google Calendar option now, but not adding in CalDAV support in?

So Google was screwing customers, then gave more time so Microsoft could support the new way Google was forcing people onto, now Microsoft is screwing customers by yanking the option early and not adding in the new way Google offers? :dizzy:

Timeline

1. Google announced dropping EAS in favor of CardDAV/CalDAV/IMAP

2. Google announced extending EAS to Windows Phone only

3. Google announced dropping support for CardDAV/CalDAV and will only make it available to select devs.

so yeah let's blame Microsoft.

Support is already there...MS is just ending it before the July 31st deadline.

There is no support from Google for Windows Mail, only Windows Phone.

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Posted

Timeline

1. Google announced dropping EAS in favor of CardDAV/CalDAV/IMAP

2. Google announced extending EAS to Windows Phone only

3. Google announced dropping support for CardDAV/CalDAV and will only make it available to select devs.

so yeah let's blame Microsoft.

I was blaming both.

And ZDNet probed further, Google confirmed that "this will not impact the agreement with Microsoft" and that Microsoft would still be able to implement CalDav support on Windows Phone.

Why would Google allow Microsoft to add CalDAV support to WP8 and not Windows 8?

Google even stated, "A note on the page adds 'If you think you have a compelling use case and would like to be whitelisted for the new version of CalDAV API, please fill out this form.'"

That seems to put the blame on Microsoft, not Google.

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Posted

Am I correct here in thinking that Google extended the support for Calendar ActiveSync to continue working until July 31, yet Microsoft is yanking the Google Calendar option now, but not adding in CalDAV support in?

So Google was screwing customers, then gave more time so Microsoft could support the new way Google was forcing people onto, now Microsoft is screwing customers by yanking the option early and not adding in the new way Google offers? :dizzy:

If I remember correctly that was only for WP8. W8 was screwed from Jan 31st. (unless I am extremely wrong)

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Posted

at least the mail app is finally getting the ability to created and edit folders been wanting that for a while.

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Posted

Google doesn't control CalDAV, of course MS can add support for it if they wanted to, that doesn't say much. And having to beg Google to get whitelisted just to get support? Give me a break.

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Posted

Google doesn't control CalDAV, of course MS can add support for it if they wanted to, that doesn't say much. And having to beg Google to get whitelisted just to get support? Give me a break.

Microsoft is already whitelisted, can't you read? http://www.zdnet.com...one-7000012633/

They're not begging for anything they don't already have. Now, they may have to get a new product whitelisted, but that shouldn't be difficult. Why would Google whitelist a product (WP8) that barely has any marketshare, and probably never will, compared to a product like Windows, which is most likely destined to be a major marketshare grabber?

[edit] Also, if ZDnet isn't enough of a source to see Microsoft is already on the whitelist, here's Engadget too: http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/15/google-caldav-support-still-coming-to-windows-phone/

"Microsoft made the whitelist for the CalDAV sync interface, which is now shelved to all but developers who get Mountain View's green light."

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Posted

well unlike mobile where Google has majority market share and can bully Microsoft, with Windows the tables are turned. The onus is on Google to support Windows Mail with whatever protocol it has and not in mobile where the onus is on Microsoft because they have a tiny share. It's dirty politics I guess.

I'd still blame only Google for dropping a defacto but better standard in favor of some walled garden version of *DAV they are using.

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Posted

I'm downloading the updates now, will update once done. :)

EDIT: Ok, so it's pretty great. The first thing I noticed is that the apps are much, much faster. Calendar is much more readable, the mail app responds much quicker, just overall much snappier and a much better experience. People app flies now, I might actually use it for more than a glorified address book.

Overall happy. Not too many changes but if they keep this up I'll be happy camper. Now if only we could get Xbox Music the same treatment.

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Posted

Updates arrived here too

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Posted

**** why did MS totally pull EAS support?! Google grandfathered existing users in but I lost it because of this stupid update...

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**** why did MS totally pull EAS support?! Google grandfathered existing users in but I lost it because of this stupid update...

Write MS about that one. They had until July 31st but they cut it off sooner without users having another option.

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Posted

How do we reduce the front size? All of the message titles are ridiculously big!

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