Wednesday, November 1, 2006

A sneak peek at Vista’s Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, and Windows Contacts


By David Gewirtz

The name Outlook Express will go away when Windows Vista ships. Instead, there's going to be a free email client called Windows Mail.

In addition to basic email services, Windows Mail adds something Vista calls Instant Search. We believe Instant Search is the result of the Lookout acquisition from a few years ago, and our experience has been that the technology is excellent. Basically, Instant Search lets you type a keyword or boolean search phrase into a dialog and get matches nearly instantly.

Beyond that, Microsoft Mail adds both a junk mail filter and a phishing filter, designed to help keep you safe. If you bought Outlook just for its junk mail filter (and don't, you're probably going to need something else anyway), Microsoft Mail will remove your need to do so.

Microsoft's also acknowledging the problem of phishing, a type of fraud that's prevalent in identity theft. Windows Mail's phishing filter can analyze emails and help identify links to fraudulent Web sites and disable them.

Microsoft also claims added reliability to Windows Mail, specifically citing problems people had opening large data files of saved email. Windows Mail is "brand new technology for storing email, and is significantly more reliable so you can have more confidence in your e-mail experience."

While Windows Mail doesn't provide the contact management features Outlook does, Windows Contact may. Or it may not. So far, all we know abotu Windows Contact is from a few pages in the Microsoft Developer Network. So far, all we really know about it is this statement:

Microsoft Windows Vista provides a new mechanism and user interface for storing and retrieving information about people (contacts) who are important to the users of Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail (formerly Outlook Express). Going forward, Windows Contacts replaces Windows Address Book (WAB) as an API for extending the contacts functionality.

Windows Calendar

We do know that Windows Vista will provide group calendaring support in a component called Windows Calendar. Windows Calendar will let you set up appointments and alerts. It will also let you schedule recurring appointments. Like Outlook, Microsoft Calendar will let you set up a task list, to help you keep track of the things you need to do. And, like Office, you'll be able to set up reminders to let you know when a task is due.

Windows Calendar has an interesting take on shared calendars. Rather than sharing calendars among a number of PCs on a workgroup, it allows a family to share calendars among users on the same PC.

Windows Calendar is also .iCalendar-compliant, allowing you to publish elements of your calendar and subscribe to other calendars on the Web.

Finally, Windows Calendar allows you to send out email invitations, and, presumably to track their responses.

Well, there you go. We'll tell you more about these interesting programs as we learn more ourselves.