The electronic time management revolution will not be televised

Here is a post from Hank Leukart about the Outlook 12 Calendar.


Over the past 15 years, paper-based communication has been replaced by electronic communication: quick chats have become instant messages, letters and memos have become e-mail, and reports have become electronic documents.  While this change is something that most of us now take for granted, it happened in an exceptionally short amount of time.

The move to electronic time-management tools has happened much more slowly.  People still used paper-based planners, Post-It Notes, and legal-pad to-do lists by the truckload.  Nevertheless, we are sitting on the edge of a ground-breaking shift to electronic time-management; electronic calendars are proliferating across all consumer technologies, including the Internet, mobile phones, portable music players, and even wristwatches.  In the near future, electronic time management will be as common as e-mail is today.

For Outlook 12, we wanted to give people the tools to become full participants in this electronic calendar revolution by providing a natural home for all of their time-based information.  Outlook 12 also tries to help by automatically burning those Post-It Notes you have sitting around your desk.  Just kidding.  While the Outlook calendar has served its users well over the past decade, when we started working on Outlook 12, we knew that there was a lot of room for innovation:

  • We wanted people to be able to more easily interact with their calendar and scan their calendar for information.

  • We wanted to make it easier for people to view, manage, and share calendars.

  • We wanted it to be possible to manage both appointments and tasks in a single place.

  • We wanted scheduling meetings to be easier and more reliable.

Side-by-side comparison of Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007

Interaction and Scanning: The Outlook calendar has undergone a major facelift in Outlook 12 -- without the help of any reality-TV makeover show -- but the improvements extend far beyond the aesthetic. Nearly every element of the calendar interface has been evaluated with an eye toward making the calendar easier to use, easier to interact with, and easier to scan for key information to help users better manage their time. In a later posting, I will go into detail about how we accomplished this.

In Outlook 12, it is easy to e-mail all or part of your Calendar, with varying levels of detail

Viewing and sharing: Outlook 12 fully supports the Internet calendar format ("iCal"), which allows Outlook users to import and subscribe to a wide-range of calendars available on the Internet, including sports calendars, community calendars, promotional calendars, and holiday calendars.  Finally, I can import the schedule for the entire "Veronica Mars" and "Entourage" television seasons with a few simple clicks!  Outlook 12 also gives users the ability to publish calendars on Microsoft Office Online for the public or a designated set of people.  In addition, Outlook 12 can send calendars by e-mail in HTML and iCal format, it allows read and write capability for Microsoft Sharepoint calendars, and it improves its already full-featured sharing capabilities when used with Microsoft Exchange Server.

The Daily Task List in the Calendar

Daily Task List: Melissa has already discussed the To-Do Bar and Daily Task List at length in this blog, but the important take-away is that with a single-click, a person can flag an incoming e-mail or click and type to add a task below his Calendar in the Daily Task List.  From there, it's easy to arrange and reschedule tasks by simply dragging them to different days or weeks.  You'd never believe how much more my boss likes me now with my increased productivity due to better task management.

The Outlook 12 Scheduling Assistant Tab in Appointments

Scheduling Meetings: When used with Microsoft Exchange Server 12, Outlook offers a scheduling feature that suggests optimal meeting times to a meeting organizer, helping him find times where all attendees can attend.  Exchange 12 also features a new "availability service" that provides always up-to-date availability information to meeting organizers.  Outlook 12 provides improved meeting workflow, removing the need for meeting attendees to always accept meeting updates when they have already accepted the original invitation.  Finally, improved time zone support in Outlook 12 makes it possible to schedule a meeting from the context of another time zone and also provides information about attendees' working hours; both of these features make it significantly easier to schedule meetings across time zones.  Hopefully, this will mean more exciting, exotic travel for knowledge workers around the world.

-Hank Leukart, Outlook Program Manager

Comments (15)
  1. davidacoder says:

    Will it be possible to use Outlook 2007 to edit what is now the hotmail calendar, and probably will be Live Calendar? Hotmail has Calendar sharing already, will that functionaly be exposed in Outlook 2007? I believe Office Live is based on Live Mail (and therefore Live Calendar) and so this seems really key.

  2. Mantvydas says:

    What I miss in recurring tasks now, is possibility to have several recurring meetings every month. Now it’s only possible to have a single meeting every month.

    I tried to organize a meeting on 15th and last day of every month – I couldn’t.

  3. KeithXP says:

    Is it going to possible to link a group tasklist stored on a Sharepoint site to Outlook 2007?

    I find it bizarre that you can make a Sharepoint contact list visible in Outlook 2003 but not tasks.

  4. mmacbeth says:


    Checkout Andrew Ash’s post on this blog on the topic of task integration with SharePoint:

    The short answer is: Yes, SharePoint task lists will synch with Outlook.


  5. queenli says:

    another task manager To-do List

    To-do List is a simple, effective task list application for Windows. To-do List provides an easy way for you to manage your list of tasks, making your life easier and more organized.

  6. this looks great, especially the timezone support. I’ve been messing around with a simple app to create vCal entries to them import, but it’s just all too messy! Glad to hear it’s for real.

    Now of course I want it working with my SmartPhone and hosted Exchange service 😉

  7. mkalisch says:

    The changes are all great improvements, however one ‘view’ has been removed which is really unfortunate.  It is the 1week x 24 hour view (ie can see the entire week on one screen without having to scroll up and down).  This was achieved by setting time scale to 60mins and either having week or working week as the view.

    It is possible to have this reinstated?

  8. mmacbeth says:

    I am not seeing this in Beta2. If I set my time scale to 60 minutes, and show the full work week, I get a 1week x 24 hour view, even if I shrink my window and have the Daily Task List at the bottom of the Calendar. It could be your resolution. E-mail me on the side ( to discuss this further.


  9. glenn says:


    is it possible to elaborate on:

    "We wanted to make it easier for people to view, manage, and share calendars"

    What is needed in terms of backoffice?

    exchange, sharepoint, nothing?

    I just need outlook-2000 net-folders functionality. due the small setup (3 pc’s), I cannot justify exchange or sharepoint.

    before a service pack wrecked it, net folders did what I needed


  10. Perry says:

    Is there anyway to sync with gmail’s calendar via ical?

  11. Can says:


    One can subscribe to a gCal using their private iCal URL for own calendars, and public iCal URL for public calendars.

    To do that

    a. copy gCal iCal URL to clipboard

    b. go to Tools -> Account Settings -> Internet Calendars | New

    c. Paste the URL

    To do the other way around

    a. Publish calendar from Outlook to Office Online

    b. Send a sharing message to the an e-mail account (or alternatively go to Tools -> Account Settings -> Published Calendars | Change and get the URL from there)

    c. subscribe to the iCal url from within your iCal supporting client of choice.

    Hope that helps,


  12. John says:

    Week View:  Is there any way to have the time displayed in each appointment?

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