OWA Calendar Supports Display of Varying Time Increments and Time Zones

Time Slots from Five to Sixty Minutes

Although Microsoft has developed a good habit of announcing changes through notifications posted to the Microsoft 365 admin center, sometimes new features arrive in apps without much or any warning. Such is the case of the ability to select different time scales and display multiple time zones now available in OWA’s calendar.

I had never noticed these features (who goes looking for new ways to tweak a calendar display) until the What’s new icon in the OWA menu bar attracted my attention with an indication that something new was available. I suspect that many people are like me and don’t pay much attention to these notifications, but in this case (Figure 1), I discovered several recent changes. Users can:

  • Choose the time scale (the increment between sections) for viewing the calendar from the default 30-minute slot used until now.
  • Add multiple time zones for display in the OWA calendar.
  • Select a color scheme for calendar events.

OWA New Features List
Figure 1: OWA New Features List

Making Events Easier to Read in the Calendar

The logic behind allowing users to choose a custom time increment for calendar is that they can select the time scale that works best for the kind of events that they schedule. For instance, selecting a smaller time increment allows the calendar to display more information about items that occur over a short period. If you’re in the habit of scheduling short meetings, then this works well. For instance, it’s common practice for corporate spokespeople to assign short periods to journalists after a product announcement. As shown in Figure 2, using a 10-minute increment (top) makes the calendar much easier to look at than the default 30-minute increment (bottom).

Multiple events shown with different time increments in the OWA calendar
Figure 2: Multiple events shown with different time increments in the OWA calendar

Of course, if you’re in the habit of scheduling multi-hour meetings, then switching to a 6—minute time increment will work better for your calendar. You can switch the time increment between different values until you find the choice that works best for you by clicking on the vertical timeline and selecting time scale from the options (Figure 3).

Select a time increment for the OWA calendar
Figure 3: Select a time increment for the OWA calendar

Documentation for the time increment feature is available online.

OWA Time Zones

Another of the items listed in what’s new list is the ability to add time zones to the OWA calendar. This feature has been available in Outlook desktop for many years and adding it to OWA was a popular user request. Adding a new time zone is easy, as shown in Figure 4.

Adding time zones to the OWA calendar
Figure 4: Adding time zones to the OWA calendar

You can set the label for the time zone to whatever value you want. For instance, I set the label for my default time zone to “Home.” You can see the effect of selecting multiple time zones and selecting a custom label for each zone in Figure 3.

Small but Important Changes

Some will consider these changes to the OWA calendar not worthy of note. At least, tweaking displays is not as important as adding “real functionality” like the Booking with me feature. That’s certainly a reasonable stance to take if you’re interested in other aspects of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, but it ignores the fact that users have asked for these changes. With that in mind, it’s good to see the changes show up in the OWA calendar, even if you never alter a time interval, add a time zone, or even change the color scheme for your calendar. Little things can have big impact.

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