Thursday, March 08, 2007

Outlook 2007 frustrations

Out of all the changes to Microsoft Office 2007, the big hit or the app most important to me is Outlook. I spend probably too much time in Outlook, so any improvements would be great. Unfortunately I have hit a few "features" that are real frustrating.

The first is the appearance of Outlook locking up during a Send/Receive pass. I have a dozen email addresses designed to get email to Outlook. All of them are POP3. When I used Outlook 2003 I would never even know a pass was in process unless the desktop alerts popped up. I could interactively use Outlook to get contact information, manage tasks, etc. while the pass was in process. Outlook 2007 is completely different. I cannot do anything until the pass is more than 50% complete. This is a huge frustration because I really live in Outlook.

The second frustration is how Microsoft changed the email flags. There are colorized email flags and there are contact categories, and calendar labels in Outlook 2003 and earlier. Now there are colorized categories, and flags represent due dates. Previously I set up email flags to mean things (red - hotlist, blue - developer tools, orange - home, and so on). I set up a couple of Search folders in my favorites list so I could easily track these things. Now all my flags are categories (which is okay, but I have to reset them to something meaningful), and my red flags have become due today items.

I also colorize my calendar items with the 2003 labels. I set up a handful of colors to mean different things. This really made finding events in the calendar simple and allowed me to balance my work and home life. Now the colors are tied to categories. So my blue developer tools color for email conflicts with my blue White Light Computing color in the calendar. Outlook 2007 sees the colors as one category. What a pain in the back end.

It will take some time (which I have very little of this month) to re-categorize all my emails, tasks, and calendar items. Along with the Daylight Savings Time correction, I am not sure Outlook and my Treo are ever going to synchronize. {g}

The last frustration is the themed appearance of the title bar. It does not follow the normal Windows title bar colors. To me it is hard to determine visually which window is active and which windows are not. In particular the problem is accentuated when I have an email window open on top of the main Outlook window. I am sure the usability studies tested this out, but I find it extremely frustrating when I accidentally click on the menu of the main window when I want to work with the email window. This is a time waster. I have not seen any settings in the Options dialog box, but I might have overlooked the setting.

I am hoping to talk to someone at Microsoft next week while I am in Redmond for the almost- annual MVP Summit to see if there is a fix in the works for the send/receive pass lock-up and how I can easily work around my flags/categories issue.

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At 3/09/2007 12:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's make sure you do get to the right person to talk about this next week. Look forward to seeing you at summit.

GM, MVP and Community

personal blog:

At 8/19/2008 01:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you ever find any resolution for the problem of Outlook2007's titlebar refusing to cooperate with Windows colors?

At 8/19/2008 02:00:00 PM, Blogger Rick Schummer said...

I have not done anything specific to the titlebar issue. Either I have gotten use to it, or maybe Microsoft made it a little better in SP1.


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