Microsoft Outlook 2010 review
The new People Pane also makes it easy to hunt down messages that have gone AWOL in a massive inbox. In a similar fashion to the well-known Xobni plugin, the People Pane lists all recent correspondence and upcoming meetings with the message sender at the foot of every email, potentially turning Outlook into a lightweight CRM tool for small businesses (although Outlook Business Contact Manager delivers full CRM capabilities). The People Pane further integrates with social-networking services such as LinkedIn, and eventually Facebook (via a downloadable plugin), bringing photos of your contacts and status updates into the foot of messages too.
Talking of contacts, Microsoft’s also made efforts to reduce the amount of manual labour required to keep your address book up to date. The new Suggested Contacts folder automatically creates an Outlook Business Card for anyone you’ve sent an email to who doesn’t already feature in your Contacts list. It’s a good idea, but Microsoft doesn’t go the extra mile in harvesting data on your contacts. Plugins such as Xobni, for example, will extract contacts’ telephone numbers from their email signatures, while Outlook’s Suggested Contacts merely fills in the person’s name and email address for you. It’s a useful feature, but not as useful as it might have been.
More worthwhile is the integration with LinkedIn, which creates fully-detailed business cards – replete with profile photos – for all your associates on the professionals’ social network. Best of all, business cards automatically update whenever the person changes their LinkedIn profile, reducing the risk of outdated contact details.
However, Suggested Contacts and LinkedIn Contacts create their own problems. Most notably your contacts are now split into three entirely separate pools (assuming you already have your own contacts folder) with no simple way of merging them. If LinkedIn associates are already in your main contacts folder, there’s also the problem of duplication. Microsoft needs to find a better way to merge this mass of contacts data.
Outlook’s Calendar has been given the most cursory of makeovers since Office 2007. New additions include Calendar Preview, which provides a snapshot of your diary with meeting requests, allowing you to instantly see any appointments that surround the proposed meeting and make a better informed decision on whether to accept or reject the request.
Viewing multiple calendars has also been made a smidgen easier with Schedule View, which stacks the calendars on top of one another in a similar fashion to the scheduling screen that appears when you’re trying to organise a meeting with several attendees.
Despite all the changes, the improved email search, Quick Steps and refinements to Contacts and Calendar, 2010 is merely a mild improvement on its predecessor. Outlook remains a class act among email clients, but too many of its new features are of questionable benefit to consider it an essential upgrade for those running Outlook 2007.
|Software subcategory||Office software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
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