Microsoft is releasing a number of updates to three core Windows 8 apps: Mail, Calendar, and People. While Microsoft hasn't radically change the interface of any of the programs, they do include much-needed tweaks to minimize digging around in menus. In fact, these updates put so much at your fingertips you may wind up losing some dedicated services (like Facebook) less.
The updates, which are free, will become available the evening of March 25. Here's a brief rundown of what the updates provide.
Changes to Mail include placing the "reply all" and attachment button in a more prominent place, in the upper right-hand corner of the window. More robust filtering options have been added--for example, you can look for unread messages, and view all flagged messages.
When it comes to composing an email, a smart contact suggestions feature will show first the addresses of people you email most frequently. Also, users will be able to add, edit, and delete links, bulleted and numbered lists, and paste in content from other apps.
Other organizational features include deleting or marking all messages in a particular folder, mark messages as junk mail, and search for mail on the server, as opposed to the local cache. Users can now also save senders as new contacts, and send email from an outlook.com alias.
Improvements to the Calendar app in Windows 8 include the ability to switch from one day, 5-day week, 7-day week, or month views, and see the current time in the day and week views. Although it was pretty intuitive to begin with, the update also makes it easier to find appointments, check the availability of meeting attendees, email them as a group, and forward invites.
Want to learn more about the person you're meeting with? Clicking on an attendee's name will open their Contact Card, from which you can message them, view their Facebook profile, post on their wall, or call them.
Changes to the People app are less extensive, but no less functional. Here, the improvements now let you see information from your Exchange global address list, filter the What's New feed by social network, and post to a friend's Facebook wall.
Overall, the new Mail, Calendar and People apps let you do more with less taps, which is a good thing. However, we'd still like to see Microsoft roll out a proper Modern version of Outlook, which would put all of these apps under one umbrella.