"Crap, I didn't start Schedule+", [some of] why I still don't love Outlook, and other nostalgias

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/11/16 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/11/16/10091632.aspx

I can't claim I have ever been the biggest fan of Microsoft Outlook.

I didn't hate it or anything. It just had some qualities that I didn't care for.

Like when Outlook 97 first came out and I had a very old Dell Laptop with an 800x600 screen. And I needed as much vertical screen real estate as I could get.

I begged several of the Outlook folks I knew to add a way to turn off the annoying gray bar that had the folder name on it.

"But Michael," they implored, "then you won't know what folder you are in!"

"Of course I will!" I replied, testily. "I have Folder View on, I like Folder View."

"But Michael," they insisted, "no one uses folder view. This is part of our distinctive look!"

Screw that. I liked the Exchange client's unique look. I stuck with that.

As a consequence, I got to miss HTML mail in its prime. And I missed the early batch of email viruses that hit so many people, as a bonus.

People throughout Office would be running daily builds of the latest pre-release build of Office, and they would send emails that would say stuff like

Sent using Outlook {insert version and daily build number}

To inject the appropriate amount of snark, i would add the following in a 1pt font so no one could read it without expanding it manually:

Sent using Exchange 5.0.1457.3, because HTML mail makes my Sent Items folder feel bloated!

and a few dozen other random punchlines. I actually automated the sig generator to randomly put them in occasionally and vary them, and every once in a while someone would blow it up, see the message, and smile.

In fact, I only gave up on doing that after too many occasions of people pasting mail into Raid (the bug database) which had no rich text and thereby revealed my hidden messages to all.

I stuck with the Exchange client until about a year and a half after Outlook started supporting Unicode PST files.

But it was a painful move.

I miss having the mail client (Exchange) and the calendaring app (Schedule+) being separate -- because by accepting every meeting invite I received in email but never launching Schedule+, I:


And over the years mOre and more features were there that I didn't like.

But in all that time, the one feature I really missed most of all....

You see, I missed the Schedule+ Meeting Wizard.

What I missed most about the Meeting Wizard was when you could set the Meeting Length, defined as follows:

Meeting Length

Specify the duration and travel times, if appropriate, for the meeting. The specified travel time is added automatically to the meeting's time slot in the attendees' schedule.

Duration: Type or select the number and units, such as hours, for the meeting's length.

To meeting: Type or select the number of minutes attendees may need to travel to the meeting location.

From meeting: Type or select the number of minutes attendees may need to travel from the meeting location

I missed that feature even as it was.

I am tired of being fully booked for meetings that are 40 minutes away rolling (or over half an hour sometimews to get a shuttle given the terrible accessible shuttle situation!). With 25% of my job in Building 27 on the main campus and 25% of it in Buildings 84/85 in the Safeco buildings, having to miss up to half a meeting due to the inability to have Scotty beam me directly over makes me wish Outlook cared about such real productivity problems that the product they killed was solving before they were even an idea, let alone an outlook!

Forget about then though. What about now? Today?

When I think about the long distances between various buildings on the main campus and the north campus and redwest and so on....

And when I think about the abilities Active Directory gave us with printers and the ability to find printers near me....

And when I think about Bing maps and travel times and such....

This would be a kick-ass and cool feature for Outlook to have!!!

A natural extension of a feature that Exchange's Schedule+ had for years and that Outlook didn't deign to add for the last seven versions (since they were too busy screwing up unfinished holiday support and Hijri calendars and such, I guess -- it takes a long time to under-architect).

If only there were an awesome mail/scheduling client around, this would be a really cool Exchange/AD integration feature.

I can't help feeling like if the Exchange client and Schedule+ were only still around.

Maybe one day if Outlook could be as cool as its predecessor in some of these really practical ways, I could learn to love it....

Joshua on 16 Nov 2010 8:27 AM:

I want to dump outlook too but I cannot until microsoftonline finally opens up IMAP.

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