At first sight, People looks promising. The contact management app is part of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. If you use both, the databases sync, giving you a single address book.
People can pull contacts from Linkedin and Twitter. That’s handy. It pulls them from other sources, but as we’ll see in a moment, that’s not as good as it sounds.
Looks aren’t everything
While the phone app looks great, the Windows 8 version looks odd on a large display with lots of white space. This design makes more sense when you use the app in the snapped view across part of the screen showing names in a vertical list.
You can pin individual contacts to your start screen – though heaven knows why anyone would.
While we are looking at needless features, there is a What’s New view where you can see a person’s social media posts.
People does a good job of automatically merging identical contacts from multiple accounts. There were no obvious duplicates in my list.
Search good, essential
Search works well enough – it needs to. You can type the windows key plus Q from any Windows 8 screen, then choose People from the list of apps down the right side of the screen.
One problem is the database fills with rubbish entries pulled in willy-nilly from the various linked accounts.
More than a third of the names it shows on my computer are people I’ve never heard of. A handful are written in other language characters and pictograms.
People tells me Outlook is the source of these strange names – I suspect this is Outlook.com and not the Outlook 2013 application (which has its own, shorter list of contacts not including any of the mysterious names).
I’m guessing here that Outlook collects the names of everyone who sends me an email, possibly every name cc’ed on incoming email.
Pretty quickly People degenerates into a long, unmanageable list of non-useful names.
Sure you can search it to find people’s email address or phone numbers, but you can do the same searching your email database. Sometimes just googling the information is easier.
So here I am, almost one month after installing Windows 8 and I’m facing either hours of culling unwanted entries from the database or relegating People to an unused, unneeded app cluttering up my computer.