Microsoft/Mac Monday

How many of you use a calendar on a regular basis to keep yourself organized? I’m sure many of you do because we all have hectic schedules with people to see and places to go. Everybody has a favorite solution whether it be a standard paper calendar or something like Google Calendar. Both Windows and Leopard come with a calendar for their users to use as well, and for being free, built-in solutions, they aren’t too bad. They actually have many similarities between them. Today we’ll be looking at iCal vs. Windows Calendar as part of our series on comparing Leopard and Vista features.

About Windows Calendar

Windows Calendar comes with Windows Vista and you access it by clicking on the Start menu and typing “Windows Calendar” into the search bar. It’s got a fairly simple interface that allows you to create appointments and manage tasks. For those families who share a computer, they can easily share their calendars as well.

windows calendar.png

About iCal

iCal is Apple’s version of a calendar that comes with Leopard. Like Windows Calendar, you can ad events (appointments) to the calendar and manage your tasks. It has a search bar in the upper right corner which is great for those times when you’re trying to find something you added to the calendar but you don’t remember where it was added.

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Likes/Dislikes about Windows Calendar

Microsoft Windows Vista.pngWindows Calendar first debuted in Windows Vista. Never before did Microsoft include a calendar with their operating system, so that itself is nice. It’s got a three-paned interface with the typical Windows menu bar at the top where you can click to add a new appointment or task, and then change the view (day, work week, week, and month views).

From that top menu bar you can also click to subscribe to a calendar. Windows Calendar is compatible with the iCalendar format which means that you can import and export calendar information from other sites and applications. You can also publish your Windows Calendar on the Internet very easily as well. If you want to share your calendar via email, that too is an option.

Overall, Windows Calendar is a nice simple solution, however there are a few things that it’s lacking. One thing is that their task system doesn’t offer the ease-of-use that iCal does. It offers you the same features, it’s just not as easy to use. With their task system, you click “new Task” at the top, and then if you have the Details Pane enabled, you’d see the option to enter in the details of the task including the option to prioritize it by clicking a drop-down menu. With iCal, the whole right side of the calendar is dedicated to “to-do” items, and all it takes is a double-click to get a new to-do item to appear. Another double-click will pull up a window where you can select the priority whether it’s low, medium, or high. iCal uses a three bar system to give you a visual idea of which items you have on your list that are high (3 bars), medium (2 bars), or low priority (1 bar).


Likes/Dislikes about iCal

One nice feature about iCal is that it is integrated with .Mac (now MobileMe) so that users can share their calendars over the Internet. iCal is also nice because they use a pop-up window instead of a details pane in Windows Calendar to edit events. As mentioned above, I really like their task system, but they’ve got some other great features as well.

I did mention that Windows Calendar has a fairly simple interface, but iCal is even simpler. It’s clean and the set-up makes it convenient to see what’s going on. When you want to add an event, you simply click on the starting time and drag your mouse to the ending time. You can also edit existing events this way as well. If the event will be starting or ending later than originally planned, just take your mouse and drag it to the new time. Another feature I just discovered that’s nice too is that you can drag and item from your to-do list right to your calendar and it will be an event.

Some of the options available in the preferences are nice as well. For example, you can choose to have your to-do items deleted a certain amount of days after they are completed. You can also delete events after they have passed as well.

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Wrapping it up

At the end of the day, both iCal and Windows Calendar generally offer the same types of features. The difference between the two is in the ease-of-use, and in my opinion, iCal is more intuitive and easier to use. Of course Microsoft wants people using Outlook which has a calendar as well, so they may not be putting the effort in to making Windows Calendar perfect.

The fact of the matter is that it’s nice that both operating systems offer their users a basic calendar so that they don’t need to turn to other, perhaps more complex solutions if they don’t want to.

So far we’ve taken a look at the following Leopard vs. Vista Comparisons