Personal Information Management (PIM) remains one of the most vital uses of personal computing in the 21st century. Gone are the days of using index cards for addresses and needing to handwrite recurring appointments on calendars.
I recently switched to Calendar.Live.com for appointment management, and I feel it is the best product currently available. It happens to be free, but I’ve also evaluated premium options.
I am now a former Google Calendar user. I was experiencing major synchronization errors in the Google product. Problems came to a head last month when Google announced the discontinuation of the feed aggregator Reader, throwing my calendar updates into chaos. (This might sound unusual, but some of my appointments are delivered to me by an RSS-only service, and I have to use it. I’ve switched to Tiny Tiny RSS to replace Google Reader.)
Here are the features I’m using from Live.com:
- Two-way desktop calendar synchronization (using Outlook)
- Two-way iPad calendar synchronization (using built-in calendar)
- Mobile web calendar
- Desktop web calendar
The only bug I’m experiencing now is that Outlook won’t display appointment reminders from the Live.com calendar. I can still get reminders on the iPad, so it isn’t a problem for me.
Google was out of the running because it couldn’t perform two-way synchronization without corrupting my calendar data. At best, I could get a reliable one-way sync from Outlook to Google. That left me with a read-only calendar whenever I was away from home, making it less practical than an old-fashioned paper appointment book.
I considered but rejected the idea of setting up my own Exchange server. The investment required in terms of new hardware and installation time was not desirable if I could find an existing service for personal use. I believe Exchange is a viable option for companies and academic groups, particularly because the latest versions include mobile web features.
Mozilla Lightning was a possibility, but not a good one. I tried synchronizing Lightning with a Google calendar to see if it would work without corrupting anything. The process of loading the calendar through a plugin was painfully slow, and it didn’t seem to actually synchronize anything but only display the calendar while online. I also couldn’t figure out what to do about Thunderbird persistently prompting me to set up an e-mail account.
I looked at many other products, all of which either lacked a web component, or lacked the ability to synchronize with a web calendar to an offline desktop application.
According to Wikipedia, the Live.com calendar is being upgraded to Outlook.com calendar this week. However, I was unable to find or access the Outlook.com calendar and could not review it for this article.