Outlook 2007 Feature Feedback
During my Master's degree I interned with Microsoft. Specifically, I interned as a Program Manager with the Office Outlook team. My job for the summer was to become an expert in time zones, drive features for the 2007 release.
Those close to me know how immersed I can become in something. That summer, I threw myself at the problem and emerged with a two-staged strategy for the Outlook team. First, a set of "easy" stuff for the 2007 release. Second, radically rethink time management so that it completely embraces time zones.
Two of my features found their way into the last two public betas and then final relese of Outlook 2007. The first feature enables a calendar event's start and end times to be specified in the context of a time zone. The second feature can detect time zone information change and migrate an entire calendar's entries to a new time zone and then notify meeting participants of the change. The user is prompted with the option to migrate if the system time zone has changed or patched with new time zone information (i.e. Daylight Saving Time rules).
My vanity got the best of me recently and I went searching on what people were saying about the features now that Outlook 2007 has been "out in the wild" for a few months. Feedback, in general, is VERY positive. Here are some links to what I found...
- http://blogs.msdn.com/melissamacbeth/archive/2006/06/09/624236.aspx (disclaimer: Hank Leukart, my "mentor" for the duration of my internship, guest posting on Melissa Macbeth's blog)
- http://www.calendarreview.com/2007/02/15/outlook-causes-mini-y2k/ (In the summer of 2005, I was quite grave about the Daylight Saving Time change. I identified that the largest pain point would be that meetings scheduled during the overlap between new DST start [early March] and old [early April] on a system prior to having the operating system patched with new DST information. My claim was that users would see this as Outlook being fragile and that we should prepare. See next link...)
- http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA102086071033.aspx (Congress was close to passing the law for the Daylight Saving Time change that started this year at the end of my internship. I proposed a tool to fix calendar and task events for older Outlook clients.)
- http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb176877.aspx (getting better Outlook extensibility support for time zones)
- http://news.office-watch.com/t/n.aspx?articleid=19&zoneid=9 (I totally agree with the author. Time zone support in Outlook 2007 is fairly marginal. See below.)
Several feature specifications didn't make it into the release, however, that would have made a lot of difference. Contractually, I unfortunately cannot discuss them. I do hope that they make it into future releases. However, Outlook 2007 plucked some low hanging fruit and that's great from Microsoft's customers.
Further, the strategy document contained a treatise on how pervasive technology (i.e. Outlook plus some other things Microsoft was working on that summer) could "change the world" by making time zones dead simple. I'm only joking about changing the world. Well, maybe half joking since I was aiming to do for time (read calendar) management what David Allen's Getting Things Done has done for task management.