The Single Best Improvement in Outlook 2016

Ok, maybe I haven’t been using Outlook 2016 long enough to say this is the single best improvement. In fact, I really hope it isn’t. But, I breathed a long-awaited “Finally” the first time I didn’t have to close an Office Reminder, switch to my calendar, and then double-click an event to see the details. Reminders have always taken up an excessive amount of screen space and, up until 2016, most of this space was wasted. You couldn’t click on any of that yellow expanse to view more information. It just sat there, taunting you. I recently referred to it as the second worst UI choice I had ever encountered. But, no more in Outlook 2016! Now, you can click anywhere in the blue expanse to open the event. The level of excitement I feel is on par with that of our CRM users who just learned SugarCRM finally allows resizable columns.

What’s more interesting is that after sharing my elation with a coworker, he pointed out that in 2011, you can actually open an event from the reminder pop-up. However, it is not in the great yellow expanse. Instead, it is the small calendar icon–which does not present itself as a button or anything remotely clickable–which holds the key. He knew this because two weeks before we upgraded to 2016, he got fed up and went searching. So, for a whole two weeks, he was able to open his events in Outlook 2011 without having to go through the already described process. Here is a visual representation of what Microsoft decided to do with that pop-up in 2011:

outlook-2011-reminder-arrows

Note how their little secret is safely tucked away, surrounded by everything you can’t click. Fast-forward five years and we find that Microsoft decided to put all that extra space to work:

outlook-2016-reminders-arrows

Oo. Ah!

Now, what is still a bit odd is that you have to double-click in the blue area, while the little calendar icon still gets special treatment. You only have to click once on the calendar icon to open the event. Maybe it is a nod to those “in the know,” which is probably a far greater number of people than my ego would care to hear.

It is funny and frustrating what impact a minor UI decision can have. However, I write this not with frustration, but with honest fascination. Of course, it might be a handy tip for someone using 2011 or 2016, but how much more interesting it is to consider the journey this small, but critical feature must have endured thus far.

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