Abomination

Outlook Must DieIf I didn’t have to have Microsoft Outlook 2007 installed on my system for testing purposes, I would uninstall it and burn the disks and packaging the installer came on. I’m not kidding. Outlook 2007 is one of the worst “upgrades” I have ever used.

I’ve come close to uninstalling it several times now. I had to disable the one feature I really loved – icalendar syncing – because I discovered it was the cause of some data corruption issues I was having. Other than the slightly nicer GUI, there is no reason for me to use the app.

I may just have to unleash this demon upon a coworker and/or a machine not regularly used for production purposes. I’m not sure I can stand Outlook much longer.

Have I mentioned I hate Outlook 2007?

Outlook Must DieHave I mentioned how much I hate Outlook 2007 lately?

  1. Daylight Savings Time: I knew that there would be issues with the Daylight Savings Times this year… but figured my calendar would be safe since I use Google Calendar to manage my appointments and whatnot. WRONG. Outlook 2007 has decided to be really, REALLY helpful and change the time of all of my appointments so that they appear an hour later. Never mind the fact that all of the events show the proper time in Google Calendar.
  2. Performance: I almost laughed typing that word. Performance and reliability are atrocious. Every time I shut down this infernal application and reopen it, I get this lovely error that says a ‘data file was closed improperly’ and that Outlook will need to scan it for corruption. Said scan takes hours. I have 4Gb RAM installed on my system. Every time I restart Outlook the same error occurs. I have no idea if my data is safe…
  3. Instant Search: I want you to go away and die. I know you want me to click you and download Windows Desktop Search so the two of you can play together, but I did that once, and the two of you brought my system to it’s knees. I want to turn you off. I should have an option to turn you off, but the only way I’ve seen to get rid of you is by installing Windows Desktop Search. Curse you.
  4. Internet Calendars: Did I mention Outlook 2007 screwed up my calendars? Thankfully Outlook 2007 can’t write to my online calendars, otherwise I would’ve been really screwed. With the DST update, all of the appointments in calendars I am subscribed to got modified locally. All appointments are now an hour later than they actually should be.

I want to like Outlook 2007, really. I am really, really trying. But this application is grating my last nerves. I’m hoping a decrease in RAM will help some. A coworker recently got a computer with Vista infected, err, pre-installed with only 1Gb RAM, so I am going to give him 2 1Gb DDR2-4200 sticks in exchange for his two 512Mb DDR-4200 sticks. I have a feeling, though, I may be downgrading soon. I can’t stand this application much longer.

A Second Look at Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007 Product Box ShotI wrote an “Open Letter to Microsoft” over a month ago. It was a short diatribe on Microsoft’s decision to use Word’s rendering engine for Outlook 2007 instead of Internet Explorer. Well, I had assumed that it would be quite some time before I had to worry about testing designs in Outlook 2007, but that day came much, much sooner than I had anticipated. I snagged a copy of it off of Amazon.com (product link) for $89.99.The interesting thing that I’ve discovered while using the new version, is that where it fails with rendering emails – it excels in handling contacts, calendaring, etc. The mere fact that the new version of Outlook supports the iCal standard, viewing RSS feeds, etc. makes it a pretty solid upgrade. Having said that, I don’t expect you to run out and buy a copy. How it renders email is a huge flaw, and one I have tried hard to ignore while using the product.

CONS

  • Email rendering sucks. Standards-based email designs blow up. Old School HTML is the only way to fly if you’ve got any customers, clients, etc. that use Outlook 2007. This is the single-most important concern I have over the product, and one that I hope gets addressed in the near future.

PROS

  • Beautiful interface. Everything is logically organized when viewing email. You can view your mail, mail folders, To-Do items, and upcoming tasks all in one window. The inclusion of Vista fonts like Segoe UI, Calibri, Cambria, etc. make everything easy to read… with ClearType enabled, everything looks beautiful.
  • iCal Support. I use Google Calendar as my primary calendaring app. The fact that I can now subscribe to them via Outlook is awesome. I also use Basecamp… and I can import individual project calendars if I choose to. Being able to pull those into a desktop app makes sense. (I only wish I could write to those calendars through Outlook – but that’s a fault of Google and Basecamp, not Microsoft.)
  • RSS Support. Anything that helps bring RSS feeds more mainstream is a win in my book. The only downside I’ve seen with this feature is that it treats new posts like emails… which doesn’t work for me. (I much prefer using FeedDemon/NewsGator Online to keep up on all the feeds I am subscribed to.)

Aside from the most obvious defect in Outlook 2007, it’s a solid upgrade from Outlook 2003. Hopefully, Microsoft will address the rendering issue at some point – but for now, we’ll have to make due with it the best we can.

The Truth Behind the Outlook 2007 Change and What You Can do to Change it.

Outlook 2007 Screenshot

Yes, Microsoft Outlook 2007 is going to use Word as it’s rendering engine… but hope is not completely lost. Microsoft is prepared to listen. This article is a follow-up to a post last week on this very topic…

read more | digg story

In response to the post on the CampaignMonitor Blog, I had this to say:

I think this irritates me more, to be honest with you. The fact that Microsoft conciously made this decision to improve messages sent from one Outlook user to another Outlook user is a cop-out.

Yes, I realize that a lot of businesses use Exchange Server, so this change will apply to them… but what about those of us that don’t use Exchange Server? What about those of us that email users on other platforms? What about those of us that don’t use POP accounts, and only strictly use webmail accounts?

To me, this just escalated beyond just being a major concern for legitimate email marketers to a full-scale war on interoperability with other email clients/systems. By making this choice, Microsoft is making it very clear: use our product, or your email will be screwed up.

It’s good they are willing to listen, but it’s like they completely ignored any of the feedback they received on Internet Explorer… My only hope at this point, is that 1) Microsoft adopts a “quirky” mode to allow for standards-based email; or 2) let users decide which rendering engine to use…

Pandora’s Box

In the beginning there was Text, and it was good.

I’m still in awe about how much residual traffic I’ve gotten as a result of the conversation going on about how Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007. The story, in various forms, has appeared on a number of sites. If you were to trust the comments on Digg, most people (it seems) would prefer that we revert back to a time where email is text-only. I don’t disagree that HTML emails can be evil, but there’s an inherent problem in wishing us back to the Stone Ages of Email: People like HTML email.

Yes, HTML email is abused by spammers. Yes, Incredimail sucks and so does “email stationary” in Outlook and the like… but if HTML email didn’t work (for spam or even legitimate correspondence), and if people didn’t want their messages to look *gag* “pretty”, there wouldn’t be a market for it.

HTML Email is here to stay, and that is why I am so irritated over the fact that Microsoft has taken to course action they have with Outlook 2007. Why break something that worked fine in older versions? Why take away something clients have come to expect?

Software should be improved from version to version. The choice to use the Word rendering engine in Outlook 2007 was probably predicated by a desire to avoid further anti-trust lawsuits… but that’s unexectable.