Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why I actually like MS Outlook

Call me a Mac purist, call me a Mac zealot, call me a lot of things (preferably G-rated) when it comes to my views on Apple and the PC market at large but you may be surprised to hear that I  (gulp!) actually like Outlook.

Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard introduced vast improvements in regards to integration with Exchange (out of the box!  not even PCs are as ready to go!) and I have enjoyed moving from Entourage to Mail.  However, there are still a few key things lacking in Mail and iCal for this Mac user on a PC network, namely:
  1. Delayed send option.  Our company restricts messages to sales and other departments during the work day to limit distractions.  Have something of value to say?  Do it before 8 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. and be cognizant of the time zones. Delayed send in Outlook lets me write, format and set future delivery of my messages - set it and forget it (and amend if the info changes b/t now and the time it is scheduled to go out).
  2. Edit invitation responses before sending, and propose alternate time.  If a meeting time doesn't work for me I may want to let the scheduler know why and see if they can move it.  iCal simply declines without further explanation.  People probably think I'm being very rude now, and if I want to suggest a different time it requires a separate email.  Blah.
  3. Checking attendee availability for a meeting.  Sure, I can invite you and you can accept/deny/propose new time but I'd rather pick a time that works for everyone the first time around.
  4. Tracking attendee status.  Accepted, declined, tentative, no response - kind of hard to plan a meeting without knowing who can make it... and I'm not one for saving each "response" email.  Which leads me to another one...
  5. Turning off "Request Responses" and "Propose New Time" options.  Maybe I don't need to know that you're okay with me only being available on my cell from 12-5 on Friday - it's just a heads up for you.  Outlook lets me just send it and you can do with it what you like... I don't care!
  6. Last (for now) is the inability to schedule a meeting room through iCal.  Outlook has a drop down menu and lets me "invite" the room as a resource to avoid embarassing double-bookings.

So, with all these issues, how do I function on a daily basis?  The workaround consists of using Mail and iCal as my main apps but logging in to Outlook through Citrix client for Mac OS when I need to do any of the above.  While I may not be as comfortable on the Windows side of the house, Outlook is my security blanket when it comes to being a good corporate citizen.  Maybe the next version of Mac OS will be named after a canine species and truly be my best friend.

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