First impressions: Microsoft To-Do – a new way to manage tasks

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Did you know Microsoft just released another new service onto Office 365 and it’s called Microsoft To-Do?

So, what is Microsoft To-Do?

“Microsoft To-Do” is a brand new Task Management app (developed by the Wunderlist team) and I’ve just loaded it up and had a play – so here are my first impressions.

The first thought that comes to mind? “Another App for managing tasks? Really?!?!” After all, we’ve already got Outlook Tasks, Planner, SharePoint Task Lists, Wunderlist … do we need another one?

However, apparently, the name “Wunderlist” will be retired and most of the features will come over into this new app.

I personally think introducing another task app is going to leave customer’s scratching their heads in the same way as they do with Teams vs Yammer vs Groups vs SP Social. Too much choice can be frustrating and in this case is probably going to end up as “Task Sprawl”.

Anyway, let’s dive in and find out what it’s like to use …

From the moment you load it up, you immediately notice that this one is definitely geared to be a personal task management app, not one you’d use to collaborate within a team. Where you may have used Outlook Tasks, or a personal Planner / Trello (as I do) this app may serve you better. In fact, (at the time of writing this), there are no ways to share / allocate tasks with anyone else. There’s also no integration with anything else in Office 365 (apart from syncing tasks with Outlook, which I can’t test as it’s not available on my O365 account yet).

The UI is pretty nice on the eye and actually very uncluttered. In fact it’s so simple (and feature light), it’s hard to get lost:

So what can you do ?

You can create a list of “anything”

There are literally no rules or constraints on the type of task you can create. It could be a list of movies, shopping list, house chores or even a list of contacts to ring. There’s no metadata, so there’s zero concept of what we are used to in SharePoint Lists such as a custom column, view, tag, category, start date, etc.

However, you can add notes, set reminders and add due dates. There’s also an option called “Add to my Day”, which aggregates tasks from several lists into an aggregated view. I guess this is where you would run down all your lists and then decide what you’re going to do in the morning.

You can also sort the list

As you’d expect, you can sort a list Alphabetically, by Due Date, by Creation Date, by Completed and by “Added to my Day”. Note: there’s no lost filter or concept of a “tag”.

You can also change the look of each list

If you want to customise the list then this is how you go about it. However, unlike in the Office 365 release post I saw nothing to pick a custom icon or add your own image. Guess that’s “coming soon”…

You can import tasks from Wunderlist and Todoist.

Tbh, i’ve never heard of “Todoist”, but I am almost certain it will be another Task management app :). Anyway, as you can see from the screenshot, you can bring items from Todoist and also Wunderlist. I won’t go into how, as I use neither.

The iPhone Microsoft To-Do App is lovely

In all honesty, I’d never consider using a personal task management app if it wasn’t available on my phone. I’ve just installed the iPhone app and I love it. In fact, I think I might actually start using To-Do for some day to day “housey” tasks that’d normally go on my Office Whiteboard. Let’s see how I go.

What’s missing?

Well there’s plenty missing that will surely be added in future updates such as being able to throw tasks into the iPhone app from other apps. e.g.

  • Imagine you are looking at a web page and want to add it into a list to read later.
  • You notice a scratch on your car and want to take a picture and add it to a To-Do list.
  • Maybe you want to scan and add receipts during a night out?
  • In other words, let us add To-Do tasks via the “Activities” list on the iPhone. (Then it’s going to get COOL!)

I really do like To-Do (so far) and find it very intuitive, however, I do wonder how I personally would use it. I am a classic workaholic. I work from home which generally means my work blends into my home life and vice-versa. It’s often hard to seperate work tasks from home tasks.

On the Collab365 Team we basically manage our “work tasks” across the team as more than one person gets involved. This is where Planner is of use, it’s certainly not something that this could be used for.

Personal-use only?

The tendency with these types of apps is to pile in too many features. Some of the beauty of To-Do is that it doesn’t get in your way. It does a simple job … very simply. It’s promising – so congrats to the team on that.

If it’s purely personal then I’d also like to find ways to share it with my family so, for example, if we wanted to tidy the house on a Saturday morning we could all pitch in on the List.

BUT, this does lead to the question – if it’s mainly for personal use, what happens if the user has tied it to a corporate O365 login and then they leave?

If it’s destined to be used collaboratively (as part of an O365 Group / Team) then where does that leave Planner?

I am sure this will all become clearer, but for now I am a little confused 🙂

Can’t login to Microsoft To-do with my O365 account…

I could only get this working with my MS (hotmail) account. As soon as I try to use it with the O365 account I get this :

However, digging deeper it turns out that we’ve not got it enabled on our Tenant. Read this. We can’t currently turn it on from the Office 365 Admin center as it’s not showing there yet.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as it develops!

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First impressions: Microsoft To-Do – a new way to manage tasks

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About The Author
- I have spent many hours working as a SharePoint Developer, Architect and Consultant for lots of organisations in the UK such as the NHS, Tarmac, O2, Lloyds of London, Lloyds TSB, BT etc.In 2007 I co-founded Collaboris, which is a SharePoint Software company that is committed to building well-crafted SharePoint and Office 365 solutions. Our flagship product is DocRead for SharePoint that allows you to request that staff, read, pass a test and confirm your key content.  I am also very active in the community and founded this community as well as running 7 virtual conferences that have had over 25,000 attendees.

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