How Is Your Outlook?

I have written quite a bit about how difficult it is to use some web sites. I’ll pause on that for the moment to comment about Microsoft Outlook. I won’t say anything about Outlook Express — the shortcomings there are well known. Outlook is supposed to be much more “industrial strength”. I am somewhat spoiled after having used Lotus Notes since 1992. It has it’s own set of shortcomings for sure but it is unquestionably “industrial strength”. After I retired from IBM at the end of 2001, I decided I should use Outlook since most of the people I interact with outside of IBM use it. (I still use Notes too). Outlook definitely has some nice features and in some ways it is very intuitive and easy to use. In other areas it is a disaster.

One of the things that spoiled me is that I could always rest assured that I had a backup of all my email, contacts, appointments, etc. on the Notes server. I could also easily make a local backup by simply copying my Notes NSF files to a CD or another PC on my LAN. With Outlook, I have yet to figure out to make a backup. I have just spent two hours searching Google and the Microsoft Web site and the bottom line is that I can’t find a way to backup my Outlook files. I can’t even figure out where they are on my PC! The most important file in my electronic life is my address book. Some call it their Contacts. Whatever you call it, it would be nice to know where it is so you can make a backup copy. After the last two hours I have given up.

In reading through various bulletin boards I find that many people share my frustration. Microsoft does some great software engineering but, being a monopoly, they don’t seem compelled to enable people to have much control on their own. Microsoft executives have been quoted as saying that the world be much safer and simpler if everybody would use Windows exclusively. The benign monopoly. Right. Once Quicken, TurboTax, Dreamweaver, Eudora and a few other key applications find there way to Linux, many people will jump ship in a hurry.