Today’s smartphone market indisputably dominated by two operating systems: iOS and Android. Contrary to the PC market, Microsoft’s Windows Phone has never had a major impact in terms of market share, and so Microsoft wisely seems to be refocusing its attention towards productivity-oriented app development on nonproprietary platforms. On September 24, Microsoft announced a new iOS app called “Invite” (http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-invite-meeting-app-for-iphone-2015-9). The underlying concept is that it can be inconvenient to try to schedule meetings via an email thread, especially when some of the participants are external to the company and cannot access internal calendars. It is hard to determine what times would be convenient for a majority of the participants, and Microsoft figured there had to be a better solution. “Invite” is a new way to schedule meetings that allows the person initializing the meeting to give a list of potential times, and the recipients then mark the times that he/she could make it, as shown in the screenshot below:
The key dilemma that this app provides a solution to is “not being able to see the calendars of attendees outside of your organization,” according to a Microsoft Blog post. (https://blogs.office.com/2015/09/24/invite-the-easiest-way-to-organize-meetings-on-the-go/). Although this is a challenge that I have never personally faced, it seems like a perfectly legitimate one in a corporate environment. I can imagine that coordinating a meeting with 20-plus people from multiple companies would be rather difficult, and it is actually surprising that no one has already put forward a solution. Additionally, Microsoft has wisely integrated this with many of the common calendar systems in the industry including Google Calendar, Outlook, and, of course, Office 365. This will allow users to seamlessly add confirmed meetings to their calendar of choice. One final point from the article worth noting is that Android and Windows Phone versions are on the way, but for now it is exclusive to iPhone. The fact that users are currently limited to iPhone is one temporary flaw in the app, for now. This is a problem for companies because there is no way for them to ensure that all of the users will be running iOS, and they will not want to exclude Android (or even Windows) users.
This article merely reported Microsoft’s announcement of Invite, but it failed to discuss what would happen if an invitation is sent to someone not running iOS. Could they respond online? The answer is still unclear even after a google search so hopefully Microsoft will clear that up in the near future. The other thing that was not clear is how this will play into Windows 10. Microsoft is trying to push its newest operating system to as many users as possible, and it would seem logical to make a compatible Windows 10 app. There was no mention of such, merely speculation. Overall, this technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that corporate meetings are initialized and set up,