I made a funny new discovery, when I had to fix some program associations in the “Set Associations Control Panel” in Windows Vista at work. There are two new tools that are provided with Vista, called “Windows Mail” (German version) and “Windows Calendar” (German version).
“Windows Mail” was disabled by GPO at work as we use “Outlook”. But I was curious, so at home I asked my girlfriend to show me that tools (she has a Vista that was preinstalled on her Laptop – and she wouldn’t trade it for a nice neat Linux 😦 ). Interestingly both tools, “Windows Mail” and “Windows Calendar” looked pretty familiar to me.
It looks pretty much like the tools in Apples Mac OS X (Company’s website), called “iCal” and “Mail”. So I just wandered about the integration of these tools – are they really a copy of Mac OS X tools? Do the new Microsoft tools work so neatly together as in Mac OS X? Which is the actual power of these tools – each individual tool isn’t that of a great invention – there would be better alternatives for each – but they unfold their power when working together
Well if you look underneath the pretty similar design, I would say: not at all. While “Windows Mail” does not have the ingenious features that “Mail” has, it even get’s worse. As a replacement of “Outlook Express” it is not capable of “WebDAV” anymore – kicking out it’s very own webmail service “Hotmail” (besides others, like Yahoo, G-Mail, etc.), it doesn’t have any integration to the “Windows Messenger” or the “Windows Live Messenger”, it only works on Vista, and it does not synchronize it’s data with “Outlook Express”, or “Outlook”.
But let’s get worse, “Windows Calendar”, though finally capeable of the iCalendar data format and therefore a pretty improvement to all the other calendar applications by Microsoft, does also not have any integration to the tools above. But this one has HTTP and WebDAV support, so you could use it for online calendars – which is cool on the one side but useless on the other, as “Microsoft Mail” doesn’t (who’s getting the point in that? I’m still searching for it!). Still it does not work together with Outlook, which is pretty bad, as the “Windows Mobile Device Center” which you’d use to synchronize your handhelds and cell phones with, uses only Outlook as a resource – and there ain’t any other way to sync with “Windows Calendar”. So actually a no-go for anybody that works with mobile devices – and today that’s everybody that somehow work’s in a office – and even the majority of those in production units do have and need mobile devices.
To top all of this, “Windows Mail” that is the successor of “Outlook Express”, but doesn’t have even half of the features that “Outlook Express” had, is now, beside “Outlook” which stays at it is, succeeded by “Windows Live Mail” (Wikipedia Article), (which again includes all the features that where in “Outlook Express” and that where taken out for “Windows Mail”) that you could download to replace your “Windows Mail”. I mean, even before this application becomes anything near recognized by the customers, there’s a replacement for it. Did Microsoft really just now realize their big mistake with “Windows Mail”? Or is there any other reason that makes sense to you and that could explain why someone would totally develop a product, put it into market, and then just replace it as fast as they can with another new product (which must have been developed next to “Windows Mail”, as developing software really takes it’s time!).
I didn’t find anything that intends to succeed “Windows Calendar”, but maybe it’s better that way.
What else to conclude than that Microsoft again did a totally unnecessary mess? These tools are anything than user friendly, they’ll cost you more nerves than you’ll gain profit out of them. So in the end, you’d stay stucked with your Outlook – not the best choice, but until now the best that Microsoft ever produced.
I know why I stick to my Linux and my Mac – Linux is the ideal partner to program to try out new stuff, to tinker around, and to craft yourself a system that, once it works, will run totally reliable. And if you’d like a user friendly system, where you don’t have to do much and that just works pretty reliable for some multimedia stuff (movies, music, photos and pictures) and office uses (word processing, spreadsheet processing, presentations, etc.) or internet uses (emailing, surfing, chatting), and that provides you with really neat features that simply makes life easy for you, then I’d like to recommend a Mac.
Just think about it 😉