Friday, October 23, 2009

Die, Outlook Die!

OK, that’s it.

I’ve had with this damned piece of Microsoft bloatware.

I eradicated Symantec’s resource sucking piece of shit Internet “Security” system from my system months ago (replacing it with the full paid version of AVG, which is teh awesome) and I deleted the stinking Norton anti-spam toolbar from Outlook – and yet every time the program starts, there it is again. It’s like the zombie COM extension that will not die.  Additionally, Outlook manages to forget my configuration at least every other restart, requiring that I go back in and turn on my reading pane, and move things around the way I like them.  And more than anything the program is just a giant bloated resource sucking hog.  I’ve had it.

I’m thinking about switching over to Mozilla’s Thunderbird, but I’m open to suggestions.

Please make some.


  1. If you have IE (which I'm sure you do) and you don't have to use shared calendar/contact items, and they have Exchange web access set up, that might in some ways be a better way to access Exchange if you're having serious problems with Outlook.

    If you're stuck with Outlook, you can try deleting your Outlook profile, deleting the ost files Outlook creates in your Documents and settings folder (in fact, I'd wipe out everything, excluding any archive files you have), run a repair for Outlook, and then recreate your profile.

    You'll probably want to save the profile name.nk2 file so you don't have to redo your entire auto-populate list though.

    You may as wipe out the contents of all Outlook profile folders. I'd do a search to find em (Just search Outlook) and delete all files in the folders (copying and saving the ndk2 file) after deleting your profile. (Location varies depending upon your operating system)

    I've done this a couple times, so I can walk you through it, as long as you know your server name, which you can grab before you delete your profile.

  2. ::deleted massive ramble about how great T-Bird is::

    Go with Thunderbird, use Outlook as your backup-just-in-case-zombies-use-email-client.

  3. Long ago gave up on Outlook; just to many problems (including security, important when I might have patient data on the machine).

    Thunderbird + Google Calendars have served me well for a couple of years or so now: no complaints.

  4. The only reasons to use Outlook are (1) if you have a Windows Mobile device that requires Outlook to sync (2) if you have a situation like the one Michelle addresses, where Outlook is part of employment communications.

    Otherwise, there is simply no rational reason not to use any other client. Outlook sucks balls. It's insecure, unstable and surprisingly counterintuitive to use (at least in some respects). The nicest thing you can say about Outlook is that it was never used by the Third Reich. That we know of. I'm not ruling it out, actually; it's quite possible that parts of Outlook were written by German mathematicians on IBM punchcards in 1938 and then bought for a song by Microsoft half a century later. Actually, now that I think about it, that would explain quite a lot.

    I haven't used Thunderbird in awhile for various reasons, but it was extremely good when I did, and I assume it's continued to improve.

  5. I was so totally ecstatic when I got the new iMac at work and installed all the software myself.

    "How did the Outlook install go?" asked the no-quite IT guy who thinks he is a server god.

    "Went extremely well. It's called MacOS Mail now."

    I loved being able to dump that worthless piece of crap (and don't even get me started on the Outlook/Exchange web app).

  6. I only use Outlook when forced to by an employer.

    Although I've discovered if I load an Outlook address book I can upload it to my ipod...which might come in handy as I don't have a cell phone and occassionally need phone numbers.

    For everthing else I just stick with the online g-mail & Google calendar. Have a back-up email on Yahoo I use for newsletters and the odd website memberships. That way if I get bombarded with crap its not piling up in my main inbox.

  7. Not that I'm defending Microsoft, but Outlook does offer options that make it ideal in a corporate environment (excluding of course Entourage, since anything MS makes for the mac pretty much comes broken).

    We work not just with student information, but also with patient information. Outlook enables us to lock down the server so you cannot download e-mail to a computer that is not on a work server.

    Combined with MS server policies, we can set it up to make it very very difficult for someone to access information they should not have. Sure, it can be done, but it's not going to be easy.

    Our security policies require a password login, require the computers to lock after a period of inactivity, and require you to be on our servers to download messages to your comptuer.

    And we require similar settings for iPhones and Blackberries--you must have your phone password protected, and if you fail to enter your password correctly after so many tries the device is automatically wiped of all information.

    Yes, it is unwieldy for the average user, but that's because it contains a great deal of security redundancy for workplaces that require it (ie HIPPA regulations.)

    The last system we used was GroupWise, and I have to say that Outlook is far superior to GroupWise, especially when it comes to shared calendar functions, and shared maiboxes (and even interacting with other e-mail programs). Now that we've switched from GroupWise, almost every user I've talked to vastly prefers Outlook.

    This isn't to say Outlook doesn't have flaws--it does. Lots of them. But compared to the alternatives, our requirements are met far better with Outlook than they would be with other e-mail programs.

    But if you don't need the extra security and shared calendar and mailbox functions, almost any POP or IMAP alternative is better that Outlook.

  8. I don't think there is a reason to use Outlook, unless you are in a corporate environment. Gmail alal the way, or yahoo.

  9. I haven't used Outlook in years. For my consulting work I use Thunderbird. Not a big fan of T-Bird, perhaps because I don't yet know it well enough to customize it for my tastes. For my corporate gig we use Lotus Notes 8.5 which is pretty damn good.

    For security reasons, if nothing else, you need to migrate away from a Windows/IE/Outlook environment. I'm using Firefox for as much as I can these days, except at the corporate gig they still make us use IE.

    Also: we use McAfee security and it is a massive resource hog as well. I hated Symantec and I'm stoking a similar hatred for McAfee. If you recommend AVG, I'm all for moving toward it for work & home.

  10. You people keep mentioning IE. Please stop that. I hate IE with the flaming paasion of a neocon evangical minister denying his fetish for cocaine and boy prostitutes.

    I am forced to use IE at work because the AF is in cohoots with Satan. I will not use it at home. EVAH!

    Nick, AVG rocks. Slim fast and utterly painless. I love it. Beats everything else hands down.

    The Outlook I'm talking about is for home use.

  11. I'm one of the "Outlook at work, Thunderbird at home" crowd.

    Outlook at work works well, as hard as that is to believe. I can access it with a browser when I'm not at my desk. And we have the Voltage secure option which automatically encrypts any external e-mail that has patient info in it.

    I had problems moving from one computer to another even with T-Bird, but that may have been me. Overall, though, I like it.

  12. I don't use Thunderbird as it won't handle transferring mail from local (non-POP, non-IMAP) mailboxes yet -- but everyone I know who uses it LOVES it.

  13. I should add that if T-bird does add that functionality, the switchover will happen at roughly lightspeed.

  14. I use Outlook 2007 and have few problems with it. But I like Thunderbird as well. The biggest reason I like it is that it stores e-mail in a plain text mbox file. However, it doesn't export email, so you need to backup the profile folder regularly. If you decide to go with Thunderbird, I can help you with it.

  15. Prepare for warp, Mister Sulu...

    It should be able to handle that - we use almost all of T-Birds functions here including getting mail from anywhere to here. I bring in my work mail, gmail, home mail from varying servers into local boxes all the time. Or am I misunderstanding something?

  16. Well, again--and I think this echoes what everyone else has said--for home use, unless you have a device that requires Outlook, why use it.

    If you're using a Windows Mobile PDA or cellphone, it will require Outlook to sync even if you never actually open the program. And, actually, what you can do (what I did for awhile myself) is let it install Outlook and then use something else instead--Outlook was there to talk to my PDA or phone when it needed to, but I never actually tapped the icon or looked at the screen.

    O'course, this probably counts as one of several reasons not to use a Windows Mobile device, either. It's easily the worst mobile OS out there. But, Jim, don't you use a BlackBerry? In which case this isn't an issue for you, either.

  17. Karl said:
    Prepare for warp, Mister Sulu...

    God I hope so. I don't look a thing like Sulu, though. ;)

    It should be able to handle that - we use almost all of T-Birds functions here including getting mail from anywhere to here. I bring in my work mail, gmail, home mail from varying servers into local boxes all the time. Or am I misunderstanding something?

    I honestly don't know. I have one MH mailbox I tap every day for mail (my VETL.org address) and I've never been able to figure out how to get Thunderbird to do that. It'll POP, and IMAP, but there was nothing to set up a poll for an MH localmail box -- that I saw.

    If I didn't see something I should have, feel absolutely free to point me, Karl. I'm using Claws Mail right now (on Ubuntu 8.x) but I'm not at all wedded to it!

  18. Eric, Blackberries and iPhones can pull mail directly from our Exchange server, so he shouldn't have a problem there.

  19. I need to upgrade to Snow Leopard and play with Mac Mail and Exchange '07.

    In the interim, as a PM with highly demanding meeting management requirements, Outlook (and BlackBerry) are a necessary eeeeevil at my day job. And don't even get me started on that resource hog, Office Communicator (MS's internal IM client/server app).

    If you don't have an exchange server requirement, nuke it. There are lots of other options. I'm a T-bird for personal email user myself.

  20. I use T-Bird because I refuse to use Outlook and couldn't find anything else that worked.

    I miss Eudora.


  21. @Alesia - aha - you 're using the ONE thing that won't do it. hehheh - the newest version of Craws should be able to import/export mbox (T-Bird) mail. It might still be in Beta (Scotty's working on it). But does not Craws work (supposedly) better on Ubuntu? (Better meaning lighter, faster) Maybe just wait for the new release (I want to say 3.71) and then convert - whamshazam... I'm guessing you prefer Thunderbird :)

  22. Wups - forgot the link to the plugins stuff.

    Plugins for Claws

    A hack could be forwarding it all to a gmail box and then subscribe to the gmail - until Claws fixes it, I guess.

    Hope that helps. :|

  23. Oh, joy. I've managed to make Evolution on linux take the place of Outlook for my work email. Thunderbird won't work, and the powers that be decided that Outlook Web Access was insecure. In fact, our email is so secure that I'm not allowed to check it from a non-government computer. I don't deal with anything classified, or even all that interesting.

    I'm looking forward to the first time that I have to tell an editor that proofs are late because I was travelling and not allowed to check my email. No really, I am.

    But my favorite recent computer "thing": I had to take the mandatory IT security training on a different computer. Why not on my perfectly good linux box? Well, because the security training required me to a. use IE; b. turn on pop-ups; c. enable Javascript.

    I would like to claim irony is alive and well, but I think that might be giving them too much credit.

    I dread the day the powers-that-be catch up with me and force me to switch to Windows. I may just resign. I don't think I can adequately do my job under those circumstances.

  24. I used to work at MSoft once upon a time, testing Outlook. I will tell you from both a professional and presonal perspective it's a bloated piece of resource-hogging crap that is FULL of bugs nobody will fix because "end users will never find THAT" or because "yeah but we're 3 weeks from launch and can't postpone for something that they might not even come across." Invariably these bugs were things that come up when normal people do what normal people do - which is click around when something stops responding. (or any other thing a developer would never do but a normal person would.)

    That said... Thunderbird makes me happy as can be. I am required to use Outlook at work, but home is T-Bird all the way. And Firefox is loaded on my work machine (shhh!) for the things I want to just jump in and load up rather than waiting 3 years. :)

  25. We use Thunderbird, google Chrome, and AVG. The only one which ever give me suspicions is the AVG

  26. jim,

    i've been using gmail at home now for, well, about as long as they've HAD gmail. couldn't live without it. it allows me to see all my mail from any computer i log onto, which i important when using more than 1 computer at home.

    i used to use tbird, but could never keep multiple instances of it sync'd. inevitably, the computer in the office didn't have the mail that i'd been dealing with an hour before down in the kitchen. it'd have all the incoming, but none of the outgoing. gmail, or any web-baed mail for that matter, solved that problem.

    good luck,

  27. Karl --

    Claws-Mail does work extremely well on Ubuntu, tapping all my email accounts (mostly just Gmail and VETL.org nowadays) at various intervals. I maintain about 5 different accounts using it. The plug-ins allow for customized functionality, I really can't complain about it one bit.

    It's just that when I did that trial run for T-bird about five years ago (maybe longer than that) I really, really liked it. :) So I keep watching the new releases, and hoping.

    Thanks for the input, I appreciate it. :)

  28. FWIW - I've been using Opera and yahoo webmail - I'm not a cool google kid:) I do have windows mail set up just for the IE (sorry Jim) stuff. Some pages just don't load well if IE isn't used.

  29. Re being stuck with IE, IE tab for Firefox works very well--assuming that the pages works correctly in the version of IE you have installed. (If it won't render in IE 6 and that's the only version of IE you have, IE tab in Firefox won't solve that problem.)

    Re other mail programs, to be honest, if it's not work, I use Gmail and Yahoo almost exclusively.

    As someone else pointed out, if you use a web based e-mail account, you don't have to worry about a message being downloaded to one computer and not another, and since I have four work computers and three computers at home, trying to keep track of what was downloaded there simply isn't worth it.

    On the other hand, some federal agencies (NIOSH and the Dept of Debt off the top of my head) block gmail and yahoo (etc) in which case you're stuck with your work e-mail.

    Add to that the fact that my phone comes with apps to download yahoo and gmail, and it makes the choice to use those as my main accounts a no brainer.

    And Jim, re web access, if you don't use IE, Outlook web access forces you to use the "Light" (ie broken) version.

    Oh, I know at some point Thunderbird used to have a calendar app, but I have no idea if that app will work with Exchange.

  30. Gmail in a browser (or on iPhone) here. I've never seen a need for anything like Outlook (not that there's ever a chance I'd use MS products if I can avoid it anyway), or Thunderbird.

    But then , I doubt I get the volume of mail Jim does. Much of my e-mail is mailing list stuff, and that's easily filtered.

    I just check regularly for client/job emails, and I'm golden.

  31. Microcrap...they haven't made a thing that didn't require daily patches and bug fixes since they began

    Its simply their MO...they do that in an attempt to keep McAfee & Symantec in business.


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