Outlook 2007 Might Not Suck!

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I can’t believe this. I’m giving Microsoft Office Beta 2 a shot, after receiving the DVD set at WinHEC yesterday. It’s running on my Vista Beta 2 laptop right now. The first thing I did? Fire up Outlook to see if they had addressed a few of the larger bugs I’ve been submitting to them since before Outlook XP was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. It’s not perfect, but it’s showing a bit of promise. They have a lot of UI work to clean up before I could give this my stamp of approval. Here’s my first round of feedback…

  • The application flashing has got to go, including when I click an HTML message to view it in the preview pane. I assume this will be fixed.
  • Message content should not lag between the time I select the message and the time I see it. Outlook 2000 (!) has no problem doing this, yet every version since then has slowed down this process. Doesn’t matter how fast the machine is, it seems – we’re limited by slow-moving code.
  • The text-wrap option is still half-baked. Recommended to leave turned off, as it no longer reminds you that there are line breaks in a message – THANK GOD!
  • The views configuration is still broken beyond belief. If I change a view in one folder, I should be given a chance to apply that view to all item-specific folders (like, all message folders). This needs to be fixed. I hate grid lines, and I hate group viewing – and I’m certainly not willing to go through each of my folders one-by-one and turn off those settings. If Outlook worked like it was supposed to work, there would be a master view setting. I assume this will be addressed.
  • Too many calls to Tahoma. They should be on Segoe UI now.
  • I don’t mind that Outlook’s UI isn’t undergoing a ribbon “upgrade.” However, it stands out like a sore thumb when sitting next to a new message window with the Ribbon. Either you’re in or you’re out, Outlook.
  • Still no way to turn off the shortcut bar – even if you hide all the icons, the bar still remains in the position. I never liked the shortcut bar.
  • Still no way to customize what header information shows up in the preview pane. Nor is there a way to configure the font sizes it calls. Nor is there a way to change the border between the preview pane header and the message; I’d prefer to turn this ‘horizontal rule’ off entirely. It should also be noted that the margin between the top of the preview pane header and the bottom of it are at completely different heights. Preview pane header still needs a TON of clean-up. Why can’t I set the preview pane header to look the same as a message window header – that’s what I want!!!
  • Why does the message list view flash when I scroll up and down?
  • Still no way of telling Outlook that I trust certain senders, and it’s okay if they send me images through email.
  • The new message window has element discrepancies. The “To” and “Cc” buttons look fine, but the “Subject” label below it is not centered, nor is it padded similarly.
  • They’ve fixed the margin/border padding discrepancies in the message window.
  • So, why is the Office clipboard not a universal Windows clipboard? Are we really living in an age when there can only be one item on the clipboard due to memory constraints?!
  • The Office button reveals a menu that looks too much like the old Windows Start Menu, not enough like the new one.
  • Clicking and dragging the preview pane border to adjust the area’s height is quite slow. My mouse moves quicker than the shadow of the border.
  • Why am I seeing a horizontal scroll bar in an HTML message with nothing but simple text?
  • There’s no way to turn off the lower portion of “options” for the current folder view. I don’t want to see it, and they still haven’t figured out how to make the margin spacing equal. One easy way to “fix” that is to allow people to turn it off when they don’t want to see it.
  • Seems redundant to redundantly put a heading at the top of the “Folders List” that says “Folders List” and right below it have a header that says “All Folders.” Duh?
  • Ouch. There’s no way to control the style of an RSS feed item. :P Major oversight here, folks.
  • HTML font control is still delegated by the pathetic font controller baked into Internet Explorer. It ain’t gonna get any better with IE7, either. Would somebody please take Times New Roman out to the back and shoot it for me?
  • In the RSS feed preview pane, it’s redundantly displaying an internal “orange tip” to tell you that you can view the permalink, then at the end of the message, it shows you a blue hyperlinked “View article” phrase. Do I really need to see both of these things? Can’t you toggle an RSS n00b vs. Master setting somewhere? Doesn’t matter, as I’m likely sticking with FeedDemon.

And that’s just off the top of my head. If the right people see it, this may very well be the Outlook version to beat. They’ve fixed a handful of bugs, but… not nearly enough to convince me that this is any better than O2k.