Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Sucks About Windows 8 Calendar and the Surface

We picked up a Surface RT this weekend, below is the sum of my experience trying to get the calendar app to play nicely with Google Calendar.

Until recently (and kindof even now) Google supported syncing your Google Calendar with Windows Live Calendar via ActiveSync, a proprietary, licensed Microsoft protocol. For the record, it's Google that's going out of their way here, and Microsoft that fails to support open protocols like CalDAV (calendars) and CardDAV (contacts). My complaints aren't necessarily that I can't use my Google Calendar on the Surface; it's that Microsoft doesn't support those open protocols that would enable a wide array of calendars and contacts services to work with the surface.

Let Me Count the Ways...

These are the approaches I tried that an advanced user could use to workaround this absurdity, and their abysmal results. Every single failure is within the hands of Microsoft to fix.

CalDAV in the the Calendar App: F-

I started off by trying to add a my Google Calendar private URL to the calendar app. No dice, you can only add Live, Outlook, and Google accounts; and Google is broken on the Surface.

I want to add CalDAV calendars to the Calendar app.

CalDAV in Hotmail: D+

I added a calendar subscription to Hotmail. This will let you see (and, I suspect, edit) existing events from the calendar subscription in the calendar app. Awesome... except when I go to create an event there's no way to select those calendars.

I want to be able to choose any of my calendars for new events.

CalDAV Primary Calendar in Hotmail: F-

You can only add events to the "primary" Hotmail calendar, and you can't select a CalDAV calendar as your primary.

I want to use a CalDAV calendar as my primary calendar.

CalDAV Provider App: F-

Next I went looking for an app to add CalDAV support to the calendar, again, no dice. Apparently Microsoft doesn't publish the tools needed to integrate 3rd party calendars with their calendar app.

I want to add 3rd party providers to the Calendar app.

A Poor Workaround

Right now Stacey is downloading ICS files and adding them to her calendar that way.

As far as I can tell, there's no good workaround to this absurdity. Can't use our new productivity device to integrate with our current (open) workflow? That might be a dealbreaker.

Honestly, if we can't get this working we may well take the Surface back to the store. We'll see.

All I can can say is, what the fuck Microsoft?

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