1. crossslide's Avatar
    It seems many of the Windows features and apps Microsoft has been developing recently have been in the closely related areas of notes, reminders, appointments and tasks. I think this makes sense because keeping track of what you are doing, what you are going to be doing, and information relevant to what you are doing is one of the most important things people do with computers, can potentially tie into almost anything else you do with a computer (because almost everything is either part of a task/activity or a source of information relevant to a task/activity) and one where the existing solutions aren't entirely satisfactory. However, I feel the newer additions are starting to cause their own problems ... but I'll get to that later :)

    So before I post the rest of my long spiel, for those inclined to tl;dr I'll ask the discussion questions here: how do people here go about taking notes, reminding themselves of things, keeping track of appointments and events, and keeping to-do lists on computers? This could be either using dedicated Windows/Microsoft features and apps as I'll list below, using third-party solutions, or making "ad hoc" use of other features for this purpose, such as open tabs or windows, Edge's reading list, bookmarks, desktop shortcuts, etc. Do you have remaining dissatisfactions with the methods you're using? Are there other approaches that you've tried, that maybe initially seemed like a good idea but you couldn't make them work for you for one reason or another?

    OK, now for the rest of the spiel. :) What prompted me to write this up was of course the Edge "snooze tab" feature newly added in Fast ring build 14926. My initial reactions to the snooze feature (note that I haven't actually used it yet, just watched a video of Brad Sams using it ):

    First, I definitely think the problem/opportunity this is attempting to address is real, and applies to me in particular. I'm one of the people who keeps huge numbers of tabs open, often related to a particular problem or train of thought I'm on. Sometimes I want to put that problem/train of thought away for a while and come back to it later, but doing this in a clean way isn't always the easiest thing so usually I end up just keeping everything open and being frustrated by clutter, etc. So I'm not sure if this feature is useful as is but I think it's at least vaguely in the vicinity of something useful.

    Second, at least going by Brad's video the current implementation looks like it might be missing a few things that might be needed to make it truly useful, at least to me.

    • One is that the feature seems to be per-tab, but in the use case above I'd generally want it to apply to a range of tabs (multiselect?) or - probably more often - an entire window. (perhaps there's already an affordance for this?)
    • Another is that it looks like you still have to type a name for the reminder, but (especially per-tab) often just using the title of the webpage or a generic "tabs saved at time xyz" would suffice, and since the whole point of this feature is that you're ready to do something else for a while and don't have time for alternate solutions such as bookmarks or whatever, it seems like every bit of friction added by requiring extra decisions from the user will make it less useful.

    Finally, Cortana reminders themselves have limitations as a task list (e.g. the interface for managing them is a few clicks in, and doesn't scale or integrated with notes etc.) - and this I think speaks to a deeper general problem with Windows right now - it contains too many incompatible approaches to notes/reminders/etc. Here's a list of apps and features just from Microsoft:

    • Cortana reminders
    • OneNote
    • Windows Sticky Notes
    • Calendar appointments
    • Wunderlist (owned by Microsoft)

    These don't really play well with each other or with third-party apps (e.g., there is no third-party API for Cortana reminders or sticky notes). That's before you even get into third-party solutions or ad hoc use of other features.

    This creates a kind of fragmentation in that each user is probably only going to use a subset of these features, which means that any new feature that wants to integrate with notes/tasks/reminders/appointments in some way, and so has to pick a feature to integrate with, is only going to be able to address a fraction of the user base. So if you're not a "Cortana reminders person", this isn't useful to you.

    I don't think it's necessarily bad to have multiple interfaces or entry points when they each have their own strengths and weaknesses (e.g., OneNote is very powerful and flexible, but it feels too heavyweight to a lot of people), but they need to interoperate better with each other, both in terms of sharing data models and in terms of the user interface forming a continuum - they should feel like they smoothly flow into each other. In a way, this new snooze feature is helping to address this a little bit (by making the "open tabs" approach integrate with reminders) but I suspect stuff like this will have limited success until Windows tackles the bigger fragmentation problems.

    I'll probably have more/different opinions once I've actually tried to make use of this :) Anyway, I thought the general topic is interesting and relevant enough that a dedicated discussion thread might be good.
    RumoredNow and msirapian like this.
    09-14-2016 06:05 PM
  2. msirapian's Avatar
    Yes reminders are more and more fragmented. I understand project Chestshire will try to streamline all this, including the outlook tasks. I hope so.

    Speaking of calendar, the outlook UWP is really basic. No possibility to edit the calendar for example (to change it from work to personal calendar for instance), and the API allowing to create an event doesn't seem to offer the possibility to switch the calendar (all my apps will show me the proposed event, I can only say OK or cancel, no possibility to edit the calendar which is the last one used).

    This shows how unprofessional Outlook is on the UWP nowadays (the irony being that Microsoft are allegedly focusing on business lol).

    So I don't expect task/reminder/notes clarification before the outlook mail & calendar starts to look like their iOS opposite numbers; it would be the sign Microsoft have started to work seriously on the topic.

    Speaking of events and reminders, I'm amazed my iPhone can show me easily (and natively) how many meeting requests are pending, when it's impossible on Windows. If you don't answer to a meeting invitation instantly, it's easy to forget that your response is due.
    09-14-2016 11:55 PM

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