MS To-do list, consumer failure and trust

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I read this morning that MIcrosoft has released another update to their “to-do” app on Android. It brings file attachments, tile support, and more.

The question I have is – “why?” Why are they doing this and why would anyone in their right mind use anything that is consumer-focused from Microsoft. Sure, use it if it’s part of Office 365 or xBox. But after all the failures, half-hearted attempts, and flat out abandoning the consumer space – why would anyone use this app or anything else?

How do you trust a company that couldn’t leverage a sure thing in a popular xbox character and make that a viable digital assistant? It’s as if killing off Cortana in Halo wasn’t enough for them.

I’m not being bitter. I can see using their Android start screen replacement. If they kill it you just move on. But a life-organizing to-do app? Why would anyone use that?

Comments (13)

13 responses to “MS To-do list, consumer failure and trust”

  1. Avatar

    TheJoeFin

    Short answer: People should choose the tool which best meets their needs.


    Microsoft To-Do is a consumer & business to-do list app. I think most people don't choose tools based on what will last forever. Also Microsoft tends to keep consumer products when they also serve business customers.

  2. Avatar

    Orin

    I use Microsoft To-Do for my tasks. I'm an Office 365 Home subscriber. I use Outlook and my primary e-mail is an Outlook.com account. Microsoft To-Do is just a prettier, easier to use (in my opinion), interface for the tasks that live in Outlook for your Microsoft account.


    For me, I enjoy being able to use Outlook to look through all of my old completed tasks that I've managed using To-Do.


    What are the alternatives? I've tried many. A lot of alternatives are from much smaller companies who's longevity is questionable. They disappear and my database of completed tasks disappears too. Or they stop updating / supporting their application and I have to migrate off of their platform.


    The only alternative I've truly considered is Todoist. But my wife and I are already familiar with Microsoft To-Do at this point. Switching platforms no longer just means me dealing with the leap, but my wife as well. Re-creating all of our tasks, shared lists, and learning a new interface doesn't sound like a good use of time.


    Also, Microsoft To-Do is the only task application I'm aware of that has a My Day list. This list is extremely valuable to me. It helps me focus on just the day at hand.

  3. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Re Cortana and smart speakers, what did MSFT try to charge 3rd party hardware manufacturers to license Cortana? I figure Google undercut MSFT on price, and Amazon went the Apple route of making their own hardware to run their own software and services. MSFT wasn't about to give Cortana away for free, and it seems it was unwilling to take the risk of making their own smart speakers.

    As for use with phones, how many Android phone or iPhone users would expend the effort to use Cortana instead of Google Assistant or Siri, respectively? As for PCs, how many enterprise customers wanted cubicle folk talking to their PCs?

  4. Avatar

    GarethB

    So, if they killed To-Do, you couldn't just 'move on'?


    Your last paragraph seems to be a bit contradictory, if they killed the launcher you'd move onto something else, but you couldn't do similar if To-Do was euthanised?

  5. Avatar

    jchampeau

    The splash page you're presented with at todo.microsoft.com says it's "For work and play." And I use it for both--I keep task lists for work items, individual lists for larger work projects, and also things like grocery lists, errands, calls to make (personal and business), etc. It fits in nicely with the way I like to organize my responsibilities. And I like the "ding" sound it makes when I complete something. It's like a little mini-hit of dopamine.

  6. Avatar

    sentinel6671

    Reliance on any software carries risk. There is literally no guarantee the tools you rely on today will be there tomorrow. Microsoft is not alone in abandoning products and "betraying" their customer base. Google does it too. History is littered with abandoned and absorbed software.


    The best you can do is adapt.


    The alternative is to use nothing, meaning you'll rely on nothing and never be disappointed. Not sure that's particularly smart.

  7. Avatar

    BigM72

    I half agree with you. I agree with the past experience with MS making on cautious (it's a long list too). I don't agree with just ignoring everything they do forever now.


    Despite their previous announcements about moving people to To-Do and sunsetting Wunderlist, I stayed on Wunderlist because it was more solid and feature-filled and I didn't see them putting a lot (if any?) effort into ToDo.


    For a year now, they have been shipping meaningful updates to To-Do and integrating it into their other Office 365 products that make it beneficial to use and they have proven they are investing in the product.


    So, ignore what MS says, when they prove something to you by shipping and it's reached the point you want to use it, go for it.

    I'll be looking to switch over from Wunderlist now at some point. The fact it aligns with their overall productivity mission and their successful O365 product also gives me confidence it's not going anywhere, at least for now.


  8. Avatar

    Paul Thurrott

    I'm a bit unclear on why yet another update to an app/service that is, frankly, updated regularly and well-supported would trigger this. Also a weird mix of amused and sad that you commingle a character in a Halo game dying with real life.


    That said. Why do hundreds of millions of people use Outlook.com, a very popular Microsoft consumer service? Or OneDrive? Or Xbox? Or Minecraft? Because it's what they like or prefer. Because they offer advantages over competitors.


    Microsoft To-Do is a much smaller effort than those things, but it also ties in, on the back-end, with tasks/to-do systems throughout the Microsoft ecosystem. So there's little worry that Microsoft will one day "kill" this offering, since its data will always be there, in Outlook.com, Office 365 Commercial, whatever.


    Also, this isn't something to get alarmed over. It's a to-do app, not your precious personal data like family photographs. It's not sticky. Moving from one to-do app to another isn't exactly difficult.


  9. Avatar

    harmjr

    This is a productivity app. I dont see Microsoft killing this app like they did Groove. If you use Office 365 at work you will see a need for an app like this the fact it ties into Outlook desktop client via O365 right out of the box should say something.

    I see this as a Businesses need some kind of app like this and lets give it to Consumers to beta test and get interested in this so that it will expand our business offerings.

  10. Avatar

    illuminated

    I use to-do lists for tasks that I have to do today, tomorrow and at most maybe in a few months. I lost the count of the number of to-do apps I went through already. From paper lists to simple text files to one note to excel to phone apps, PC apps, etc. They are easy to use and very easy to switch.

    I wonder what kind of critical life-organizing is going on in your case. Maybe you should print your to-do lists, laminate them and use a sharpie to mark done tasks?

  11. Avatar

    will

    Microsoft ToDo, while a stand alone app, has been getting deeper and deeper integration with Office 365. While they still have a ways to go, ToDo is meant to be the personal checklist for Office 365 users. It will be a place that when you are assigned tasks in Planner, they show up in your personal ToDo app. Same goes for Outlook users in that when you have tasks added in Outlook, they show up in ToDo. It is a work in progress and I would like to see them move a little faster overall, but it is not going away.


    Personally, I would like to have them launch a macOS version of this app. Per Ignite this is coming soon so that is some good news, but who knows when "soon" is :)

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