Good News in the May Windows Desktop Outlook Beta Preview

Microsoft in May released a beta preview of their upcoming new Windows Desktop Outlook, and it contains good news for MYN users. Microsoft has not abandoned the original Tasks module—it’s still in there!

That’s important because the original Tasks module is needed to use MYN in Outlook. So we now know that MYN users can continue implementing the MYN system in the newest version of Windows Desktop Outlook.

I Was Getting Nervous!

Before this release, I was getting nervous! I was nervous because all other new Outlook versions had, in their most recent updates, dropped that original Tasks module, favoring the newer (but weaker) To Do tasks module. For example, Outlook for Mac fully dropped it recently, and Outlook Online dropped it a while back. Tablet versions don’t support it.

Clearly, Microsoft seemed to be moving away from that Tasks module, and Windows Desktop Outlook was the only remaining Outlook version retaining that old Outlook Tasks module. So, I was anxious to see what the next update of Windows Desktop Outlook would bring us. Would Microsoft drop it there too?

But MYN users can rest easy: Microsoft is keeping that original Tasks module in Windows Desktop Outlook. Bravo! In fact, as you’ll see below, Microsoft included both it and To Do, giving everyone a choice.

Similar to Previous Versions

You might wonder, though, has anything else significant changed in this new version for MYN users? Well, this new version looks very similar to the current Outlook release as shown in image above.

And as far as we can see, it implements the Tasks module identically to the earlier versions.

For example, as shown on the right side of the image above, you can see it still enables the To-Bar pop up task list and all MYN settings work the same there. All special MYN Tasks folder views can still be set up, too. And ClearContext Corp tells us their add-in software called MYN Views should still work. So gratefully, everything MYN users are accustomed to will work in this latest release. In fact, all current MYN settings should be imported when you upgrade.

Now, as you would expect, there are a bunch of changes in this release; after all, why release a new version? But most changes aren’t related to managing tasks, and so I won’t review most of them here.

Includes Both Tasks and To Do

There is one change I will mention though. The new Outlook now includes both task modules: the original Tasks module and the newer To Do module—they are both built in. Let me show you that.

First, you’ll now find two task links on Outlook’s left-side navigation bar, shown in the image below. The top one launches the original Tasks module, and the next one launches To Do. You choose just by clicking. 

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To Do now Opens within Outlook

Even more important is this: when you click the To Do module link shown above, the full To Do app opens within the Outlook app. It’s now part of desktop Outlook.

Microsoft never did this before. In all other Outlook or Office apps, when you click the To Do link, you jump from the current app to a browser tab, launching To Do’s web app. But no longer; To Do now opens inside the Outlook app as shown below. To Do users will appreciate that, especially those using 1MTD.

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Differences between the To Do Module and Tasks

Let’s step back a bit. In case you have not read or watched my many previous reviews of To Do, let me remind you of the differences between the To Do app and the original Tasks module, and why that matters when using the MYN tasks system.

To Do has no 3-level priority field. To Do has no start date field. And To Do includes very few opportunities to customize task views. Overall, To Do has dramatically fewer features compared to the original Tasks module. And it’s that lack of power that eliminates To Do as a choice for using MYN.

To Do’s positives? It’s much simpler than the original Outlook Tasks module; it’s simpler to learn and simpler to use. A new user can adopt it quickly. In this age of short attention spans, that’s apparently what many people want.

One other good thing: To Do automatically syncs all its tasks with the original Tasks module. So if you enter a task in To Do, it promptly pops into the Tasks module and vice versa. During that sync, fields such as task name, categories, and due dates sync as well. That sync is useful as I’ll describe next.

Smartphone Apps

Perhap To Do’s best attribute is its excellent native iPhone and Android apps. They really are great apps. In contrast, Microsoft never created native smartphone apps for the Tasks module.

By syning To Do and Tasks modules on the server, MYN Outlook users can use those smartphone apps—somewhat. For example, for entering new tasks while on the road. Or for viewing your highest-priority tasks (they are starred in To Do).

However, you cannot configure the To Do smartphone apps with “real” MYN views. So MYN users who want a full MYN view in their smartphone must use a third-party app like Preside or TaskTask to see and manipulate MYN tasks. While both are good apps, they are not native Microsoft apps, so they don’t connect with all Microsoft servers.

Another approach MYN users can take to solve the smartphone issue is this: Consider using Todoist, or Toodledo for tasks instead of either To Do or Outlook Tasks. Both the Todoist and Toodledo app families implement MYN well on their smartphone apps. Using either of these app families on your phone and computer, you can then continue to use Outlook for email and calendar (or use Gmail for that matter) while jumping to Todoist or Toodledo for managing tasks. Both have good links to Outlook and Gmail, too.

The Many Versions of Outlook Can Get Confusing

But let’s get back to discussing the new Windows Desktop Outlook beta release. First, do not confuse this app with other Outlook versions like Outlook for Mac, Outlook Online, Outlook iOS or Android. The Outlook label is overused and gets confusing. Microsoft is merging their functionality, but versions still differ greatly. For example, dual access to both To Do and Tasks is only in this new Windows version.

Also, don’t confuse this latest Windows release with a beta version of Windows Outlook released earlier in May. It was reviewed extensively in the computer press as the new “One Outlook.” While that version looks nearly identical, it has far fewer features including no access to the old Tasks module, nor access to add ins. Rumor is, Microsoft will retain it or a similar scaled-back version to replace the free Windows 11 Mail and Calendar apps delivered on all new Windows computers.

But if you are an MYN user on Windows, ignore that version. You’ll want the full new Windows Desktop Outlook that includes the original Tasks module, as I discussed above. It’s the paid one sold with Microsoft Office as part of a Microsoft 365 paid subscription or through your company’s subscription.

Get It Now?

Should you get that beta now? Well, if you have the current copy of Windows Desktop Outlook and you use MYN, I see no reason to rush to get this. The current release works fine for MYN. And since it’s beta, it’s likely missing features.

Granted, if you use To Do, it’s nice that To Do launches within Outlook now. But using To Do in a separate app still works fine too. All tasks still sync, and any emails you convert to tasks in Outlook still convey into that separate app. So again, no need to rush.

But if you really want to test it out now, the new Windows Desktop Outlook upgrade is reportedly available only to Beta Channel users running Version 2205 (Build 15225.20000) or later. I belong to that channel, and this new version installed automatically on my computer recently. Once installed, you will need to activate the new features using the Coming Soon, Try It Now toggle in the upper right.

Conclusion

MYN users on Windows Desktop Outlook can now rest easy knowing that Microsoft is continuing to support its more powerful, original Tasks module in the latest Windows Desktop Outlook release. That bodes well for MYN’s future in Outlook—and really for everyone using tasks in Outlook.

And for those using To Do, it’s good to see To Do as a full, built-in module in Windows Desktop Outlook. No more jumping to a web browser to use it.

This is all good news!

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9 Responses to Good News in the May Windows Desktop Outlook Beta Preview

  1. Alpha says:

    In To Do, could ‘My Day’ be used for ‘critical now’ tasks?

    Starred for ‘opportunity now’ and everything else is ‘Over The Horizon ‘

  2. Michael Linenberger says:

    Interesting idea!

    The downside of course is that when My Day clears at midnight, you lose track of what was set yesterday… those tasks then become Over the Horizon tasks, possibly moved out of sight. Ideally you would not let that happen (Critical Now should be completed each day), but it will happen. Thoughts about how to recover from that?

    In any case, If you can write out a complete set of maintenance steps around that approach, please do.

    Thanks, Michael

  3. TR says:

    Michael,

    While it’s good to see Microsoft is keeping the current tasks module, it’s frustrating how slow development has been on ToDo and other MS 365 task management offerings like Planner and Project Online. Our company utilizes Teams, OneNote, and SharePoint very effectively, but task assignment and tracking within the MS environment still presents a significant challenge, especially for team corporate environments. We end up resorting to Jira and other 3rd party offerings.

    Do you have contacts within Microsoft? I’d like to help push your case.Your MYN system is brilliant. We have taught it to several of our staff who have immediately walked in relief at finally having a task management system that actually works in a fast-paced environment. I think you are an unsung hero of productivity and would like to help if I can. I put my email in field below, drop me a line when you have time.

  4. Michael Linenberger says:

    Thanks TR. I don’t have contacts within Microsoft anymore. I used to, but Microsoft got real tight on insiders working with outsiders, and then after that all authors/ media folks got shunted to their PR dept, which went nowhere.

    Thanks for the praise on MYN. I tend to agree!

    Michael

  5. Carol Ryan says:

    Michael, any thoughts about how to integrate Teams messages into the MYN system? My work group uses Teams to virtually ask questions, make decisions, etc. Just copy into Tasks to track followup or is there an even slicker solution?

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      We haven’t found anything slicker, nor have clients of mine. They tend to use them separately. Michael

  6. DM says:

    Hi Michael, are you sure that the new version of Outlook for Windows will include the Tasks module? The screenshots on the following Microsoft webpage, which I understand is dedicated to the new Outlook, don’t appear to include a Tasks button, and only seem to include a To Do button, as far as I can see: https://insider.office.com/en-us/blog/the-new-outlook-for-windows-helps-you-be-more-productive-and-in-control-of-your-inbox.

    If it turns out that it doesn’t include the Tasks module, do you have any plans to write a new book detailing how to implement your MYN system in To Do, or another application that can be used on a desktop computer if it’s not possible to implement it using To Do?

    Thank you.

  7. Michael Linenberger says:

    That article is fairly old and they apparently have not updated the images. The legacy Tasks button is there in the latest Windows Outlook release, I am staring at it right now on my computer screen, and I have all updates. And it is fully functional per my article. Thanks for your note.

  8. TM says:

    I just downloaded the beta New Outlook. It looks as if they’ve now removed the legacy Tasks button; only the new To Do button is shown on the left vertical shortcut bar. That is concerning. I’m an Office Insider using Current Channel (preview), and when you run Outlook, they give you the option to run the New Outlook in the top right corner of the app. When turned on, it downloads what they are calling the “New Outlook”.

    Here’s to hoping that someone in Microsoft will appreciate those users who depend on the Tasks module. However, with this latest version I just downloaded, I don’t know what they are doing. It looks like they gave somebody a machete and turned them loose on the app.

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