Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why Outlook is Bad

I don't know if I have ranted about this before but Outlook is in my bottom 5 apps of all time. Why? Because it doesn't seem to perform any of its basic functions well. Microsoft are in an enviable position that they employ thousands of people and if that doesn't mean they can't have a decent sized team making Outlook as slick as possible, then it is very sad.
What kinds of things do I find very poor about Outlook?

  1. Lots of reports on the internet and my own experience is the overall slowness. Opening Outlook takes longer than opening just about anything else.
  2. Searching is both ineffective and again, very slow. Why does searching for a query term in sent mail take over a minute when Google can search the entire web in milliseconds?
  3. What you think of as some kind of real-time auto-prompt for names when composing an email is nothing of the sort. It only replays what you have already typed previously. If someone's email address has changed on the server, you will NOT pick up the change, if you have previously used Smith,John and type John, it won't find Smith, John automatically.
  4. Setting up meetings is messy and really not intuitive, the whole ribbon thing has been around a while and it still doesn't seem as instinctive as Microsoft kept saying when it was released. Finding how to do the real basics like adding people and checking or changing schedules is all messy.
  5. Really useful features like "expires after" are hidden away in sub menus that are not obvious. This feature also doesn't do anything more than expire the email, it does not delete it from the exchange server which would be really useful for messages like "You have left your headlights on" which you honestly don't need someone on holiday to read in 2 weeks time.
  6. The options are a massive load of confusing and poorly laid out controls. Honestly, how many of these things are ever changed by anyone? Is there not a better way to lay these things out?
It's no wonder that open source and small companies write better products. Someone has said that a small company always brings agility to a product - modifying and updating more in line with the current market but you would think that a team of, say, 20 people at Microsoft would have Outlook so sorted by now, there wouldn't be anything that needs doing. Everything it does should be slick and helpful. Honestly, if you don't have to use Exchange and Outlook - don't!
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