people

Microsoft writes ponderous, lengthy, and hard-to-understand blog posts about Windows 8 and then I explain what they’re saying in plain English. In the second post in this series, I look at today’s Building Windows 8 blog post about the People app, Microsoft’s connected contacts management solution.

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

Steven Sinofsky writes:

“Managing ‘contacts’ has been a bit of a challenge for many, especially as the number of places that contacts can be stored and the number of PCs and devices we use to access those contacts has increased.  Storing contacts in the cloud for easy roaming and connectivity is a part of the solution.  With Windows 8 and the new People app, we are taking cloud storage a step further by optionally connecting it to other services you already use. This brings together email contacts and contacts from your service / social accounts in one easy to access and use place that roams across your Windows 8 PCs and phone.”

Paul explains:

Windows 8 includes an app called People that aggregates contacts from multiple sources.

Here’s what the post really says…

Introduction

Windows 8 includes a “new” kind of contacts app.

What they aren’t saying: The People app is in fact based on the People app (and Me tile) in Windows Phone, which shipped two years earlier.

The People app is connected to “the cloud services you already use”.

What they aren’t saying: It is not, however, connected to the Outlook-based contacts you may already be using too. (It is solely for connecting to cloud-based contacts sources, including EAS-based accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.)

Complete & connected

The People app provides an attractive UI for viewing your contacts and seeing (and commenting on) their social networking activities.

You can mark special contacts as Favorites.

Like many Metro-style apps, the People app supports semantic zoom.

A What’s New view provides “at a glance” summaries of all of your contacts’ activities (across their social networks).

The People app detects duplicate contacts (the same contact in 2 or more services) and presents a single, unified view called a linked contact. You can edit, add, and remove links.

Designed for Windows 8

As a Metro-style app, People utilizes key Windows 8 features like contracts, for sharing over social networking services.

What they aren’t saying: There’s no way to create a new post to a social networking service from within the People app.

The People supports “deep linking” (or what Windows 8 calls “secondary tiles”) to pin a tile to the desktop representing an individual contact.

Cloud-powered

The People app is a “connected app” that uses data hosted in cloud services. It does not store your contact information locally on the PC (though that information is synced to and cached on your PC).

In control

The People app has various controls for protecting your privacy and different default behaviors for different kinds of connected accounts.

Moving forward

Microsoft hopes you enjoy the People app.

What they aren’t saying: Microsoft hopes you don’t notice some of its missing features too.

For more information about the People app, please refer to Windows 8 Feature Focus: People (App Preview). I’ll be updating this article for the Windows 8 Release Preview soon.