Microsoft has started rolling out promised updates to core ‘modern’ apps in Windows 8 and Windows RT. In line for an update are the maligned Mail and Calendar apps as well as the People and Messaging apps. However, in addition to bringing long-awaited functionality, Microsoft has also disabled sync support via Google’s Exchange ActiveSync.
The improvements to the apps are best described as incremental, but add longer overdue basic functionality. A new ‘filter by unread’ option has been added to Mail that hides read messages, but leaves new mail visible. Microsoft has also made it easier for users to create, rename and delete folders as well as better mechanisms for flagging messages and junk mail.
Users can also expect improved stability and better overall performance and a better search function that now also searches messages stored on the server. However, users wanting to connect to a Google account through Mail will now need to Gmail over IMAP and have lost the ability to sync calendar and contacts.
The Calendar app gets a new ‘work week’ view as well as the ability to check the availability of people for meetings, forwarding invitations and send group emails to people attending a meeting. Additional options have been added for recurring meetings and events.
The updated People app allows users to filter new messages according to which social networks have been added along with improved navigation. Messaging gets some stability and performance improvements ahead of the integration of Skype and Lync expected to arrive next month.