Few would argue that the Windows 8 Mail and Calendar apps are best-in-class, even after several updates. Thankfully, Windows 10 looks to be a step forward from its predecessor in this regard. This past week, Microsoft released build 10061, the first to let Windows Insiders try these core productivity apps.
The new mail app retains the three-pane viewing experience that many will find familiar from various email services and the desktop Outlook client. When writing an email, users now have the option to include tables, pictures, and text editing capabilities from Word. Even a simplified version of the ribbon UI is present.
For those who are on tablets, Microsoft has included left and right swipe gestures, which enable quick triaging via actions like delete, flag, move, or mark as read/unread. These are customizable as well, so if you don't like the default actions, you can easily change them to suit your needs. There is also a button to quickly switch between Mail and Calendar. Speaking of which...
Microsoft's Calendar app has received a significant upgrade as well. A side pane (accessible via the hamburger button) provides quick access to a month view, along with a list of your calendars. In the main portion of the window, clicking on a time slot reveals a small pop-up box, letting you see the rest of your appointments as you fill in a new one. This particular functionality mirrors the web app, perhaps just as importantly, Google Calendar's implementation. Finally, the color palette is decidedly more muted.
Productivity for Everyone
It's notable that these apps really are representative of Microsoft's renewed focus on its desktop users. While we might quibble over certain details (and we will!), the hard line approach to simplicity has been dropped in favor of a more balanced and flexible user experience. Gone are the hard-to-discover app bars, replaced by always-visible action buttons at the top of each app. Gone is the obsession with side-scrolling, replaced by a more common and familiar vertically oriented design. This will hopefully make for apps that enable more people, across all device types, to be more productive.
Stay tuned for more on build 10061!