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Microsoft: To-Do or not To-Do?

12 May 2017 by emma.robinson

In April, Microsoft released a preview of a new task management app called ‘Microsoft To-Do,’ available both online and on mobile. ‘To-Do’ was developed by creators of ‘Wunderlist’ (an established task management app developed by Berlin-based start-up ‘6Wunderkinder’). Wunderlist was acquired by Microsoft in 2015, and Microsoft To-Do is intended to be the next ‘evolution to Wunderlist.’ The similarity between the apps is unmistakable; the preview of To-Do offers borrows many Wunderlist features including:

  • List compilation
  • Due dates and customisable repetitions by day, week, month or year
  • A clear, familiar interface
  • Reminders and notes

It is important to note: You must have a Microsoft account to create an account, and the app can also sync with Outlook.
Creating ‘To-Dos’ 
The layout of To-Do is reminiscent of Wunderlist’s; users can freely click to add and delete ‘To-Dos’ by clicking the blue plus button in the chosen list. You can add reminders, custom date repeats, due dates and notes to each task, found on the right.
However, there are a few well-loved elements that Wunderlist users might miss, such as the lack of inbox, now replaced with ‘My Day’ and ‘To-Do’ (or you could create your own). There is no option to attach files or subtasks, and there is a lack of email and print options for a To-Do.

Moving To-Dos
The pinned lists ‘My Day’ and ‘To-Do’ are an interesting element of the app. Users can move tasks from one list to another by right clicking and accessing the options on the left, or simply dragging and dropping their To-Dos to another list. A To-Do can still be moved to the ‘My Day’ section, even if the set due date isn’t the current day, however, if a To-Do is moved to ‘My Day’, then the due date no longer seems to function correctly. Instead, the ‘Due date’ only highlights in red when the due date is near or overdue.
Adding Dates and Reminders for To-Dos
Right-clicking a To-Do also opens a drop-down bar for a host of options like: adding due dates, marking a To-Do as complete, copying To-Dos, creating new tasks from current ones, and moving To-Dos to other lists.
Microsoft preview also lacks a weekly layout and smart language parsing, so typing in suggestions for the future such as ‘visit Mum on Sunday’ doesn’t set the reminder for Sunday.

Creating and Deleting a New List
Adding new lists is very simple, with the blue ‘New list’ feature on the left. If you right click on a specific list, it opens the drop-down bar with the options to duplicate or delete lists.

Completing a To-Do
Completed tasks are crossed out and remain on screen on both mobile and web apps, and on the mobile version, the completion of a task makes a satisfying ping noise, identical to the one made by Wunderlist. However, the apps differ when used on the web; To-Do remains silent as tasks are clicked complete, but Wunderlist confirms with a ping on both platforms. While To-Do is still in the preview stage, this is perhaps a feature to be updated in the future, or an anti-distraction measure for users while working.

The suggestions feature on To-Do is a helpful reminder for uncompleted tasks. Opened on the ‘My Day’ page via the lightbulb icon, uncompleted tasks are listed at the top of the page, while helpful suggestions for other tasks lie underneath. Prolonged use of the app gives more opportunity to learn about your task habits, so expect more suggestions as time goes on.

Importing Lists from ‘Wunderlist’ and ‘Todoist’
One very interesting addition to the To-Do app is the inclusion of an import feature. By clicking on your username, the dropdown bar offers the option of importing your lists from Wunderlist and Todoist (another task management application).

Wunderlist vs. To-Do
Despite some missing elements, and the fact that, currently, direct comparisons mark Wunderlist as an overall better application, the preview of To-Do is highly promising in its similarities and clean interface. To develop the tool further, and fill some of the gaps that Wunderlist users have noted, these are a handful of features that will hopefully be added in with future updates:

  • Sub-tasks
  • Smart language
  • Sharing tasks/lists/files
  • Attachment files
  • Today, week, future tasks

Without these features, the ‘next evolution of Wunderlist’ will have difficulty converting faithful users of the original. Nevertheless, Microsoft To-Do is in preview, so users with high expectations for the app can remain hopeful for improved updates.

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