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Outlook.com is a free email and calendar server provided by Microsoft. It supports Exchange ActiveSync (commonly known as EAS) is a communications protocol designed for the synchronization of email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes from a messaging server to a smartphone or other mobile devices.

EAS support is good because in practice it means that any mobile phone will work well with Outlook.com. You simply create an Outlook.com account on your phone and the email, calendar and tasks will be updated automatically.

There is catch however, Outlook.com is NOT a fully featured Exchange Server. To get one of those you need to purchase an Office 365 Business Account. Exchange is not included in the Office 365 Home offering.

One of the limitations is that Outlook.com does not support rich text in appointments and in particular you cannot insert or files or attachments. This prevents common use cases. Examples are,

  • You cannot create a HTML formatted agenda for a meeting
  • You cannot insert a map of the location of you meeting
  • You cannot attach relevant emails to the meeting

meeting notesThere is a possible workaround. Outlook 2013 allows you to create a page in a shared OneNote notebook and inserts the link into the meeting. (see figure). It is possible to create a section of your Personal OneNote notebook called Appointments and have it always place the meeting notes there. Since OneNote also syncs with your phone you will always have the meeting notes with you.

A drawback is that rather than having all the information in the appointment you would have to open the separate OneNote app or click the link to view it on the web. However it is possible that if you have the Outlook app on your phone clicking the link would open the relevant page in OneNote on the phone and you would not need a network link.

When you create linked meeting notes Outlook 2013 inserts the anchor text “View Meeting Notes (web)” as shown in the figure above. Unfortunately since Outlook.com does not support HTML in this field the links are lost when you save the appointment. When I explicitly pasted the links into the appointment they were broken in the stock Android client although they might possibly work in the Android Outlook client.

In summary, use Meeting Notes to create a page in your OneNote notebook and then remember to sync OneNote on your phone while you have an Internet connection (I don’t think that it syncs automatically).

— update —

This post gives more information about this issue. http://www.msoutlook.info/question/813 and this post http://blogs.msdn.com/b/descapa/archive/2012/08/28/taking-meeting-notes-in-onenote-2013.aspx explains how OneNote on the desktop has a button called “Meeting Details” that will allow to quickly create a Meeting Notes page from within OneNote. However on my PC OneNote can only see meetings that are in my Exchange account not my Outlook.com account.

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