Microsoft Outlook 2010 review

£199
Price when reviewed

Outlook was the neglected child of the Office 2007 family, forced to make-do with the old menu system while its siblings were decked out with the splendid new Ribbon. Outlook casts off its hand-me-downs for Office 2010, benefitting not only from the new toolbar, but a decent selection of other enhancements.

Combatting email fatigue appears to be chief among Microsoft’s concerns for Outlook 2010, with a mixed bag of new features such as Quick Steps and Conservation View. Quick Steps are one-click shortcuts to common email tasks, such as creating a new message to a specific group of people, forwarding an email to your line manager or moving a message to a specific folder. They’re both effortless to use and set-up, but they’re probably tucked away a little too discreetly in the Home tab, making it easy to forget they’re there.

Anyone who’s activated Conversation View certainly won’t have missed it, although possibly not for the right reasons. Conversation View is Microsoft’s stab at replicating Gmail’s threaded conversations, where emails on the same subject cascade under one another, instead of each getting a separate entry in your inbox. While the theory sounds appealing, the execution is terrible. Outlook misguidedly assumes every email with the same subject line is part of the same conversation. Thus messages using common subject lines, such as “sales update” or “meeting agenda” are callously lumped together.

On the credit side, Ignore Conversation allows you to duck out of tedious or irrelevant email chains by sending all further messages in that chain straight to the Deleted Items folder, but given this uses the same, crude subject-line filtering as Conversation View, we can’t help wondering whether this could lead to legitimate messages being automatically binned.

Other inbox-management features are undoubted winners, however. Already mightily improved in Office 2007, Outlook 2010 takes email search to Google-like levels of sophistication. A dedicated tab now appears whenever you enter a search term, allowing you to instantly refine searches to, say, emails received in the past week or messages containing attachments.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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