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Outlook 97: another view

As expected, I received numerous E-mails this weekend about the Outlook 97 article. As you might expect, opinion about the product ranged from "love it" to "hate it". Well, here is a note I got from WinInfo subscriber Michael Kairys last week, just before I published the article. This note is a response to the newsgroup posting that prompted my original article and nicely summarizes the way most pro-Outlook people feel. For completeness, however, you will also find some selected comments from the Outlook E-mails I received this weekend below. Here's another view on Outlook: -- Ordinarily I would quite agree with you, and with Jensen Harris when he points out the "glaringness" of the lack of ">" quoting , but I realize I have a somewhat different reaction, and the reason I do is something I want others, esp. Microsoft, to hear. Microsoft! You *are* listening, aren't you? A few days ago David Goodhand was explaining a bit of the internals of the new COM/OLE menus and toolbars in Outlook, and in passing mentioned that customizability was something they had to let go for the first release. Of course whether I sympathize with this depends partly on the future, i.e. do they move quickly and efficiently to implement missing features and does the product develop in a way that implies a focused and intelligent product plan? In this case I tend to feel strangely (for me) sympathetic with Microsoft, and unusually (for me) inclined to suggest to you that you (and we all) "give them a(nother) chance" and see where they take this thing post 1.0. And the reason I feel this way is entirely because... (Microsoft! You *are* listening, aren't you?) ...of the thorough and articulate participation of David Goodhand and others in the Outlook group in this newsgroup! It didn't take very much, Microsoft, to entirely turn my reaction around. Just knowing that you *acknowledge* that things left out are important, were not forgotten, will be forthcoming (of course if you turn out to be lying ;-). David's participation has gone much further than stroking my ego, of course; he has provided reams of useful and vital explanation and workaround to help us actually use the thing (and that such reams are needed is a tacit acknowledgement of its own). So that's the message I want to get out. It requires Microsoft to act as if it were a small company vitally interested in user feedback and concerned with user satisfaction. And even if it is an act, I will be easily taken in, because it's what I want very much to hear. -- Michael Kairys -- I should note now that Microsoft's David Goodhand is a frequent contributor to the Outlook 97 newsgroup on and that Microsoft really does listen. If you're interested in participating in the improvement of Outlook 97, or need technical help for the product, this is the place to be. -- Now, a few reactions to the Outlook article: "My little company does consulting work with small businesses and I liked the idea of a central store of information. Then I found out that this central store could not be shared, that the highly touted public folders \[feature\] was just a dream if you didn't have Exchange server...I sent off a little E-mail to a local Microsoft rep and got a quick response: she didn't know. About an hour later I got back a response from Redmond that basically said that's the way it is. I replied that they were missing the boat. What happened to 'information at your fingertips'? What happened to sharing information? To me sharing information in a small, four-computer office is being able to share a contact or phone list. Why create a peer-to-peer network when you can't share basic business information? It's not having four copies to keep updated or, better yet, invest in Windows NT server and Exchange server so you can share a phone number! Someone is really missing the boat on this, IMHO!" -- John Toennies "I have been using OutLook as my primary email program since we received a beta version in the MSDN shipment. I have found Outlook to be excellent as a general purpose E-mail program and scheduling application, far more useful than the Exchange/Schedule+ combination...The memory footprint of OutLook alone is less than the Exchange/Schedule+ combination - I have been using OutLook on a 16Mb 486/50 with no problems and we are rolling out OutLook for a client to 170 machine, 60% of which are 8Mb 486/50 machines. Usability testing has shown OutLook under Win95 on these machines is significantly more responsive than the MS-Mail/Schedule+ under Windows 3.1 they are currently using...I am impressed with OutLook and think it is the best Mail program MS has released so far: personally I can't stand Eudora and Exchange was just too slow." -- Shane Gough "I disagree with your really strong attack on Outlook. While it is nowhere near as flexible and friendly as Eudora or Pegasus for Internet mail it is an improvement over straight exchange and very strong as an office productivity tool. At least this time the contact management sheet and E-mail work together. I much prefer to keep all my contact information (E-mail, addresses, phone #'s) in one place rather than keep a list of phone numbers and addressed in one place and E-mail addresses somewhere else like the Exchange/Schedule+ scenario. Even Eudora or Pegasus don't allow me to keep and easily access info other than E-mail addresses within the same application." -- Jak Lenert "I'm not convinced that a return to the infamous ">" is a paradigm that we want strap ourselves to...With the Microsoft's use of indents, font styles, sizes and colors, that job is now handled with more adequate functionality. A single character is sadly lacking. A new set of other characters becomes a "language" to be learned. Not an acceptable solution for much needed new functionality surrounding original messages...Now, the challenge is to find ways to provide proper connectivity between e-mail programs to accommodate this better idea... providing other e-mail programs can add this functionality to their systems." -- Marvin Kreyer -- And, since we're on the subject, anyone interested in the Microsoft Exchange family of products (this includes Outlook) should really check out Sue Mosher's excellent Exchange Center Web site at: Sue maintains, among other things, an excellent Outlook FAQ, that includes this little gem: "In the first major upgrade \[to Outlook\], Microsoft plans to add many of the features from Internet Mail (& News) to the Internet support in Microsoft Outlook." We can only hope. Want more information? Microsoft Outlook FAQ

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