Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Microsoft Outlook 2007: Craptastic

I've used every version of Outlook since it wasn't even Outlook (in 1995 or 96, it was Windows Messaging) and it's generally gotten better with each new release. No more.

I upgraded to Outlook 2007 recently because the previous version of Outlook was not correctly interpreting the time for appointment requests that were sent from my coworkers (who use Macs and iCalendar). They'd book a meeting with me for 10am and it would show up on my calendar at 4am instead. Also, the new version of Outlook promised calendar sharing without Microsoft Exchange (we're a small company so we use our ISP's POP3 mail instead of a dedicated email server).

Initially, Outlook 2007's calendar sharing feature worked fine. I could tell it to publish my calendar to our internet web server and I could then use Google Calendar to view that calendar when I worked at a client without my laptop. But then, after a few weeks, I realized that when I viewed my calendar on Google Calendar, it was sorely out-of-date. At first, I thought it was a problem with Google Calendar but I later figured out that it was a problem with the icalendar file (.ics file) produced by Outlook 2007; for some unknown reason, the file produced by Outlook 2007 is now produced in an invalid format that can't be parsed by Google Calendar or any other third-party ics validator (the UID field is broken into two lines which is a violation of the icalendar spec).

So, my primary reason for upgrading Outlook 2007, to take advantage of the calendar sharing features) is no longer working. Add to that, Outlook 2007 has several annoying habits:
  • If I shut it down and then hibernate my computer too soon after the shutdown, when I start it up again, it tells me that it "failed to shutdown correctly" and I have to wait several minutes for a fruitless and pointless error check to complete before I can use Outlook again.
  • It crashes randomly - for the last crash, all I did was close a Note window and boom.
  • It's terribly slow - much slower to start up, much slower to deliver mail.
  • I can't delete bad nicknames because the MS article that explains how to do this is wrong and I can't figure out where the new nickname file is stored.
  • Because I can't delete bad nicknames, it has this annoying habit of not sending some emails - they get stuck in the Outbox because the email address is invalid but there is no visible warning to me that they're there.
I'm just hoping that Microsoft hurries up and delivers a service pack that fixes these problems soon.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:47 PM

    I can't believe you've wasted so many years with Outlook, it has to be one of the worst of a long line of really bad MS products. The whole address book contacts distribution alone is a complete disaster and the program is probably an even more obvious and bigger grab at making the populace at large dependent on MS than IE Explorer is. Unfortunately, as with so much else, the size and ubiquity of the software are tying more and more of us into it, eg through PDAs and phones.

    Outlook also has those really bad Mac habits of treating users as morons and mixing a poor interface with a my or the highway approach to commands. Anything, even cut and paste, that might allow high levels of interoperability with other programs is frowned upon. Hell outlook isn't even that keen on you using other MS programs. Try cutting and pasting an address list from a word document into the address book for example.

    And like Adobe crapwear Outlook is also very good at hogging resources and bandwidth.

    Basically Outlook is extremely poor and I would recommend Thunderbird or even the google mail calender set as infinitely preferable.

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  2. My Outlook 2003 has the same behavior you described regarding closing a Note and having Outlook crash (disappear, more like).

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  3. Mario6:14 AM

    My Outlook 2007 isn’t better than yours…my calendar sharing feature works fine but once in a while when I click the send/receive it completely crashes! What a nightmare, I worked on an email for half an hour clicked send/receive and I just lost it. In a forum thread I was advised to try and repair my pst by using Microsoft’s scanpst.exe but this crappy tool did just nothing…and it looks like there’s nothing I can do about it.

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  4. I no longer use any version of Outlook for my personal mail, migrating instead to Google Apps.

    For work, though, I use Outlook 2010 with syncing applications to sync with my work gmail account and calendar (which allows me to see everything on my Droid X phone).

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