Winding down my series of experiences with applications and services in the Windows Live Essentials suite, I want to start talking about some of the cool add-on’s that make the online experience a very powerful one.
The Outlook Connector provides access to your Windows Live services such as Hotmail, Contacts and Calendar inside of Microsoft Office Outlook with the ability to sync between the two. The advantages are you are able to utilize the rich capabilities of Outlook for syncing, viewing multiple calendars for instance, keep offline copies of your hotmail email and contacts.
You can manage how you receive your Hotmail messages from the Outlook Connector menu
Storage availability being displayed by the Server Status Toolbar.
When you install Live Essentials, a new menu is added to Outlook called Outlook Connector. From there you can sign into to the service which requires a Hotmail or Live ID, additional requirements include Outlook 2003 or later. Benefits include having additional Hotmail accounts and the ability to manage them as one profile. The Server Status toolbar manages the synchronization between your Windows Live services (Mail, Contacts and Calendar) along with displaying your storage usage. I am a bit curious about the storage usage, since the toolbar displays 625 MBs out of 500 GBs for my account. I don’t think I would never need that amount of storage just for mail so it must be some mistake. Another great thing about managing your Mail, Contacts and Calendar, it’s automatically exposed to the Windows Search Index in Vista or Windows Desktop Search if you are running it on Windows XP.
With the Outlook Connector, you can view your Windows Live Hotmail contacts in Outlook. By organizing your contacts in Outlook, you can take advantage of the advanced contact management features that Outlook 2007 offers such as the new Business Card View, Instant Search, and the ability to sort contacts by different criteria such as location or colour category. Additionally, any changes you make to contact information in Outlook will automatically be synchronized with the Web version in your Windows Live Hotmail account.
With the Outlook Connector, you can view your calendars from Windows Live Calendar in Microsoft Office Outlook, including other people’s calendars that have been shared with you. By managing your calendars in Outlook, you can take advantage of the time-management features that Outlook offers such as viewing multiple calendars in Outlook at the same time. With Outlook 2007 and the Outlook Connector, you can also:
- View tasks and flagged messages beneath your appointments on the days in which they are due
- Categorize your appointments with custom colour categories
- Overlay multiple calendars
Changes you make to your Windows Live Calendar Beta calendars in Outlook are automatically synchronized with the Web version in your Windows Live Hotmail account.