Just in time for this year’s Summer Olympics, Microsoft is rolling out a new calendar option on various Outlook apps, including Outlook on the web, Outlook.com, and the iOS and Android clients.
Drawing its focus away from email clutter for a bit, the company has turned its attention to helping users keep an eye on non-work-related happenings. Microsoft’s new Outlook Interesting Calendar is a new, Bing-powered feature that allows users to track major events, like the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in their Outlook calendars.
Users can access Interesting calendars by clicking on the Add Calendar option and then selecting Interesting Calendar. Initially, Microsoft is making a curated list of sports teams, leagues and Olympic competitions. Once selected, the calendars appear in the Outlook interface and sync across a user’s devices.
For now, the feature is limited to Outlook.com users and commercial customers on Outlook on the web. In the coming weeks, Outlook for iOS and Android users with Office 365 accounts will be able to use the feature to create the new calendars, Microsoft said.
Not a sports lover? The software giant suggested that it has more types of events and occasions in mind for the feature. “The Summer Games and Sports calendars are just the beginning. We will be increasing the scope of events we cover in the coming months,” wrote the Outlook team in an Aug. 1 blog post.
Outlook isn’t the only Microsoft offering to succumb to Olympics fever. Yesterday, the company announced that its Azure cloud media streaming services had been selected by NBCUniversal and NBCOlympics.com to host 4,500 hours of Olympics programming and related content during the games, which take place Aug. 5-21.
The Redmond, Wash., tech titan is no stranger to streaming the Olympics, noted Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division.
“We always strive to deliver more content in real time to more channels and devices around the world,” Guthrie said in a statement. “During the Sochi Olympic Games, NBC Olympics had more than 1 million concurrent live viewers watching a collective average of 600,000 hours of coverage per day. We are planning for even greater viewing numbers for Rio, and are excited to power the experience again using Microsoft Azure.”
Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, is also getting into the act.
This week, Windows 10 users can play Olympics-themed trivia games with Cortana and ask facts about the games and participating athletes. Adding the Summer Games as a category to Cortana’s notebook, a repository of user interests and facts used to hone Cortana’s predictive capabilities and personalize the experience delivers headlines on the latest developments concerning the games.
Microsoft also is enlisting its Bing Prediction technology to deliver suggestions on which events to tune into. Based on projected upsets, the possibility of new world records and other factors, Bing Predicts offers visitors a schedule of so-called must-watch Olympic moments.