Microsoft® Office 2010 Beta – Outlook (Part 2)

In the previous post, I’ve shown the first launch and setting up of a Windows Live Mail account through Outlook Connector. In this post, I will include the remaining features that I find new and useful as a home user of Microsoft Outlook 2010.

Before I go into the features of this version of Outlook, I will show my account setup and migration of previous data (.pst) from Outlook 2007. I used back my previous PST file from my XP Machine, and use Add Data Files function in Account Settings to import the previous PST.

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After this PST data file import, I proceeded with setting up my other email accounts, which are GMail and YahooMail. Below is some screen shots of different settings / environment of my Outlook 2010.

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You can see 3 email accounts (Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail) plus one imported PST file, Outlook – Win7

Back to new features that Outlook 2010 providing, here is a list of new features that I personally find it useful.

1. Outlook Backstage

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This is a new implementation of the File command button on the Main Menu Bar of Outlook 2010, which enables user to have a one stop access to all  the account settings, alerts management, Outlook options and etc.

2. Quick Steps

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This is a new enhancement for users to create shortcuts for tasks or actions that normally would be performed on Outlook items, such as action to move them to specified folder, instead of going through the Move command and select target folder from the list. I personally has used this Quick Steps to create a To Buddies action which will create a new email with number of my close friends’ email addresses added in the To field, this is all done automatically by clicking only one button.

2. Reply with IM

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This particular feature is really useful for personal / home user where they don’t have Microsoft Communicator installed in  their environment. Whenever the user click on this Reply with IM icon, Windows Live Messenger will automatically pops up with a chat window where the user and the email sender can engage in a chat through Windows Live Messenger.

3. Threaded Conversations / Emails

This is a new functionality where Outlook 2010 will help users in displaying the email conversations in a threaded format. Through this, users of Outlook 2010 will be able to view all emails which are related in a flow. This is similar to what GMail has to offer in helping the users to arrange emails in threaded format. In this release of Outlook 2010, this particular feature is not perfectly implemented, especially comparing with GMail, what Outlook 2010 did is to scan for email with the same subject and same sender + receiver fields to determine whether they should be grouped as a series of email conversations. This implementation is flawed in certain situation, as i will show it in the following pictures.

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On the left is the Outlook implementation of thread conversations, where different recipients will definitely be treated a different series of conversations. On the other hand, GMail managed to group correctly all the conversation between me and another friend of mine. Microsoft definitely have to work hard on this, honestly, I am really looking for this feature to be implemented at least on par in terms of performance as GMail’s implementation.

4. Outlook Social Connector

This is a new feature where Microsoft tries to provide platform for different Social Networking Services to connect and work together through one application. The Outlook Social Connector is a panel at the bottom of every email, where it will auto detect the sender and recipients and pull information about them respectively. Those information includes the emails that are related to this person, activities of this person through RSS, attachments, meetings as well as Status Updates from Social Networking Services.

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Currently, only SharePoint has provided the connection and service to this tool, but more will come. And LinkedIn has confirmed integration with Outlook Social Connector through this post.

5. Better Calendar Integration and  Scheduling

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The new Outlook 2010 has improved its scheduling functions, viewing as well as integration between different calendars. Example can be seen in the picture where a overall view of appointments / events / meetings from different calendars is shown.

Finally, here is only a small portion of what Outlook 2010 is capable of, I am only giving my personal opinion from the perspective of a home user. There are other features such as SmartArt capability of Outlook 2010 in creating emails, tight integration with Microsoft Office Communicator, Unified Messaging Technologies and etc which I didn’t cover in this article. For more information on Outlook 2010, please visit this site. Of course, readers of this post can post enquiries as well as suggestion of topics and I will try my best to answer them. In fact, I am trying to setup the SharePoint Server 2010, which I will cover in coming posts.

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