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Permalink Life with Plain Text Only Outlook 2003 For E-Mail

It is coming up on one month now that I have left the comfortable world of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino for a job where I would be forced to use Outlook 2003 for day-to-day email at work. While there are some things about Outlook I find that I like a little better, there are other things driven by comfort factor and policy that have me seriously going through Notes withdrawal. To start with, there are a few things I like about it. One is the fact that I can click on an entry in the global directory and see what groups an individual is in. That has helped tremendously as I transition back into my old career and need to track people and information down. Of course, this "nice feature" would be unnecessary if I could sort on the organization/office column of an individual and see what I need in the "view" (or create my own custom view).

Another thing I like, and have had a number of Notes/Domino customers ask for over the years as customizations, is the ability to set a "Reply To" value at the UI level in an individual message. This is really something that IBM/Lotus has missed the boat on over the years.

Another thing I like is getting notified if someone deletes a message "without reading" if I had a return receipt on it. Of course, they may have read it in the preview pane and not just deleted it. But at least I know they have physically touched it in some way, shape, or form.

Now to the not so good things.

Mail search sucks, plain and simple. Now that I have a critical mass of emails in my mail file, search sucks. It is slow, clunky and useless. Did I mention it sucks? Notes/Domino might not always be the best and fastest, but Outlook 2003 is painful.

In Lotus Notes, I can open the Domino directory separately and have access to it as I see fit. This is not so in my current Outlook configuration. (which I have no control over). If I open it from the icon, I cannot do anything else until I close it. This makes any kind of directory resource an unusable toy at best. Maybe someone can tell me the error of my ways.

And finally, one thing I never really thought of because I like to receive plain text SMTP messages, is that being forced into a text only mail environment is a huge productivity drain. Forget about being able to present a list that can be forwarded and replied to. Forget about sections. If I want this, I have to create a Word document and attach it to the email message. That, my friends, is not a very effective use of mail storage space.

So the beat goes on and later I will right how painful it is to have ZERO collaboration tools that anybody uses. I might wax poetic about being teased by a Lotus Sametime icon on my desktop, only to find it has been dumped in favor of the the vast inferior Jabber chat client (that nobody uses).

Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are my personal observations and do not reflect the policies or opinions of my employer (written or otherwise).

Footnote: Company Email systems I have used over the years (in order):

WANG (1990-1993) (kinda sorta)
All-In-One (1993-1994)
Groupwise (1994-1999)
Lotus Notes (1999-2010)
Outlook 2003 (Current)

06/07/2010 09:58:00 PM

Comment posted by Richard Schwartz06/07/2010 09:53:49 PM

If you can get away with it, download and install the LookOut plugin and use that for search.

06/07/2010 10:59:59 PM

Comment posted by Christopher Byrne06/07/2010 10:35:15 PM

No, one does not attempt to install anything. In fact, even plugging in a USB flash drive can and will lead to severe sanctions. No one can say they do not have IT security down to a science!

06/09/2010 07:26:59 AM

Comment posted by Denny Russell06/09/2010 07:20:16 AM

I'll add my 3 to the list. This is from a post I did a while back.

1. I cannot Send and File a message. I must send the message. Then I have to go to my Sent and find it and move it to a folder. Seriously? I know, it's all because of how Outlook stores the messages. It's doesn't add a pointer, it makes a copy of the message. What? More on that some other day.

2. The Escape key does not allow me to send. I can save it or cancel it but not send. Come on, I'm typing along and simply hit 'Esc', I should be prompted to send the mail. You aren't going to give me an option to file it anyhow (see #1) so just let me send it for crying out loud.

3. Delivery Failures = Fail. I can't resend from the Delivery Failure notice. Again, I've got to go thru my Sent and find it and forward it.

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