Microsoft has moved its recently released calendar-syncing improvements for the native Outlook app for Windows out of preview and is starting to roll it out more broadly.
The Outlook Calendaring Team at Microsoft seems pretty confident this will be a major but subtle improvement to using shared calendars within Outlook on Windows. It released the preview of the new experience in 2019 and has been testing it with users who opt-in to it.
“Eventually, it will be just “on”, but this is a journey and arguably the biggest change to Outlook for Windows since its initial release in 1997, so we want our every step to be cautious,” Microsoft explains in a blogpost first spotted by The Verge.
The changes aim to improve the speed and reliability of how shared calendars within the Outlook Windows client sync changes that users make on a shared calendar to the calendar owner and members.
That’s rather important: when these updates aren’t synced in a timely fashion, conflict and confusion can ensue.
“Since summer 2019, we polished the experience and fixed bugs, thanks to many customer reports. With tens of thousands of daily users on the preview, we feel confident now that the experience is going to delight calendar delegates,” Microsoft notes.
So far, Microsoft has released the improvements to about 10% of Outlook for Windows users and it plans to expand that through the second half of the year.
Despite it being the biggest change in two decades, Microsoft hopes that calendar owners and colleagues who can manage that calendar don’t notice anything but a smoother experience.
“This is one of those improvements that should be invisible because it eliminates issues but doesn’t change the core product functionality,” Microsoft explains.
But it does mean calendars should sync faster and won’t be so unreliable for those managing the calendar.
The bit that’s being enabled for Outlook on Windows is instant syncing under the new model for the shared calendar, according to a Microsoft support document.
“The service instantly syncs changes to the recipient’s local copy. This triggers a push notification to the application which syncs the changes instantly,” Microsoft explains. Previously, Outlook only periodically polled the owners mailbox for changes and then synced them.