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Microsoft Opens Up Outlook, Offers W7 USB Install App

Gordon Kelly

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Microsoft Opens Up Outlook, Offers W7 USB Install App

Disclaimer: Outlook and I, we're not on the greatest of speaking terms since I left it at the altar and eloped with Google Apps (we are very happy together).

Still, Microsoft looks set to give Outlook something of a make-over and introduce it to new friends with the revelation that it is to open up the programmes crusty, bloated .PST files. The bane of many an existence, the PST file clumps together a user's entire email, calendar and contacts information and is locked to a single machine. Over time the file bloats to many gigabytes in size, slows Outlook operation to a snail's pace and brings your world crashing down around you should anything happen to it.

Finally seeing the error of its ways, Microsoft is consequently planning to open up the format to "allow developers to read, create, and interoperate with the data in .pst files in server and client scenarios using the programming language and platform of their choice". IE: officially allowing third party applications to bring greater flexibility/interoperability.

The logic behind this is undeniable, as is its motivation: fear of the Cloud. More than ever users expect to have all their data available at all times, over multiple devices and constantly in sync. This is what Cloud computing brings (and what *cough* Google Apps/Google Sync bring). In fact, projects like Azure and MyPhone show Microsoft understands this. Furthermore Google has been crowing this week about securing a deal to migrate the entire Los Angeles city council to Apps, so business is being lost now.

A timeframe? Microsoft hasn't laid out any dates and admits the project "is still in its early stages and work is ongoing". Still, Outlook is again headed in the right direction so you can happily sit tight. Either that, or side with Los Angeles city council...

In related news Microsoft has followed up its other progressive move of the week (Windows 7 for netbooks), by releasing the literally named 'Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool'. This small app enables users to easily convert a Windows 7 image into a bootable version for a USB stick (and also DVD). Goodbye lengthy workarounds, hello happy days.

Links:

Interoperability @ Microsoft Blog Post

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool

Kaurisol

October 28, 2009, 7:28 pm

Ahem, it is already possible to have outlook synched and accessible via multiple devices. Personally I have outlook accessing multiple email accounts and am also accessing the same accounts via my N95 with the Nokia Messaging app - Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo mail and others.

farki80

October 28, 2009, 7:33 pm

"The PST file clumps together a user's entire email, calendar and contacts information and is locked to a single machine. Over time the file bloats to many gigabytes in size, slows Outlook operation to a snail's pace and brings your world crashing down around you should anything happen to it."





1. PST files are not locked to a single machine. I have transferred mine over multiple PCs.


2. Only people who do not know how to archive their PST files properly will see theirs swell up to multiple GBs. My main Outlook file is a slender 80MB whilst my archived file is about 200MB after compressing. Every year I create a new archive PST and then backed up to an external drive and optical disc, never to be seen again.


3. I rather trust my data on my own PC than the 'cloud'.

Ben 3

October 28, 2009, 8:19 pm

@Kaurisol


You are accessing multiple e-mail accounts across different devices - not the Outlook .PST file. Two completely different things.





In regards to the USB/DVD tool it would be nice if they could release something similar for those that have the Retail DVD

Simon

October 29, 2009, 2:57 am

Kind of related: get your Facebook calendar showing in Outlook or Google: http://blog.seanbonner.com/200...

jamie hancox

October 29, 2009, 12:29 pm

We moved my small business away from a hosted MS exchange environment (using outlook) to google premier a few months ago. Running a mixture of Windows 7 and XP we are finding the sync tool doesn't do a fantastic job... outlook is not as sweet as it once was.





The web interface is fine, but at the moment if you want offline access outlook is the only game in town.





Google does do a very good job of offering mail/contacts/calendar on all of our mobiles though... iphone, blackberry and windows dumbphone.

PGrGr

October 29, 2009, 3:35 pm

About bloody time!





Kaurisol,





Yes, you can copy your entire pst file, but you can't extract a small subset of data from it without installing office on your second machine.





Recently I wanted to extract the contacts information from an enormous pst file on my mac at home, and found that I couldn't, because the file is not "open". Worse than that, even if I had bought Office for Mac I wouldn't have been able to read the file because the Mac version uses a different file structure. I know I was compounding the problem by using a Mac rather than a PC, but I was frustrated by not finding any lightweight utilities on the web which enabled access to the data within the pst files.





Its just a shame that MS is so backwards looking. I honestly don't think they would have ever made this change if it weren't for the threat from google et al.

Gordon394

October 29, 2009, 8:37 pm

@Ben - there are many free third party tools which will make an ISO from your DVD ;)

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