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Author Topic: Outlook 2007 - a rant  (Read 10331 times)

johnk

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Outlook 2007 - a rant
« on: June 05, 2007, 12:03:43 PM »
In another thread (http://www.donationc...index.php?topic=8734), I praised MS's fine OneNote program, and said it showed just what they can do when they try. On the other hand...

Recently I upgraded to Office 2007, and with it to Outlook 2007. Like many people, I live in Outlook. Which is a great shame for me, because Outlook 2007 is horrible.

The main problem is that it's just slow. Now Outlook has never been sleek and nimble, but 2003 was a pretty good program. Glitch-free, for me, and worked quite well. I am growing old watching emails render in Outlook 2007. It is painfully slow. And when the email finally appears, if you're unlucky enough to open an HTML email....Let me give you just one example.

Here's a daily email newsletter I receive from Variety magazine:

[attachtimg=1]

And since I "upgraded" to Outlook 2007, here's what I see:

[attachtimg=2]

Why? Well, it took some digging to find out, but apparently MS, in its infinite wisdom, decided to stop using the IE HTML engine to render Outlook emails. Now Outlook 2007 uses....MS Word's HTML engine. Really.

A bit more digging, and I found that this is causing plenty of coders endless frustration:
http://www.sitepoint...endering-in-outlook/

Now I know that some of you will say that maybe it's a good thing. Maybe we'll see a return to the good old days of plain text emails. And yes, I'm one of the old timers too - I always send plain text emails. Unfortunately, the commercial world does not, and will not. So email newsletters, invoices etc, all in HTML, and all at the mercy of Outlook's new excuse for an HTML engine.

I wish I could just shrug my shoulders and say "it's time to move on". But Outlook, and its PDA equivalent, are ingrained in my life. It's going to take some long-term planning to move away.

Finally, I inquired about how I would revert to Outlook 2003, while keeping the rest of Office 2007. Apparently I'd have to uninstall all of Office 2007, install Office 2003, then re-install Office 2007 without Outlook. Oh, and mail merge would be broken. And one or two other things as well...

steeladept

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2007, 12:07:47 PM »
Ugh...As if IE wasn't bad enough.  Word's HTML engine has always been the worst engine around.  I don't know why so many business people in particular insist on using Word to create HTML.  IT JUST PLAIN DOESN'T WORK RIGHT!  Another reason to stay away from Office 2007...

Curt

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2007, 12:17:01 PM »
On the other hand, if one must try to think happy thoughts, this could hopefully soon be the occasion for Microsoft to vastly improve Word.

Darwin

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2007, 12:23:29 PM »
I remember howls of protest about this when Office 2007 was still in beta but can not for the life of me remember where (probably here!) I read about it. Too bad MS didn't listen... One assumes that this was done for security reasons, but it would have been nice to have retained the option of switching the engine.

On a related note, another thing that was made clear while Office was in beta is that Outlook 2007 can import pst files created in 2003 and earlier, but pst files created/updated in Outlook 2007 can not be exported back into Outlook 2003. I am SO glad that I caught that before blithely migrating everything into the beta, which is what I had planned to do!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Veign

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2007, 12:36:55 PM »
Does this help the speed issue:
http://www.veign.com...of-outlook-2007.html

johnk

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2007, 01:21:20 PM »
Does this help the speed issue:
http://www.veign.com...of-outlook-2007.html
Veign,

Thanks for the link, but I have already applied the patch, along with many other fixes suggested on various forums. And the patch didn't really help. One of the reasons for the slowness is that the combination of a new database format and the use of Windows Desktop Search for indexing means that there's lot more writing to the hard disk going on all the time as you use Outlook.

I even read one quote from an MS bod who had the nerve to say that the problem was caused by users' large PST files and that "people shouldn't be using it as an archive"! I know what he means, but on the other hand, back when they released Outlook 2003, they boasted about the fact that the PST size limit had gone up from 2GB to 20GB.

My PST is less than 500MB, and it performed fine in Outlook 2003. Outlook 2007 is the problem. I can only presume that everyone at MS uses some form of super-computer and they never, ever see speed issues.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2007, 02:03:00 PM »
Why? Well, it took some digging to find out, but apparently MS, in its infinite wisdom, decided to stop using the IE HTML engine to render Outlook emails. Now Outlook 2007 uses....MS Word's HTML engine. Really.

The infinite wisdom presumably came from the constant criticism in the past of ActiveX/Java based viruses arriving in emails because of the holes in IE's rendering engine.

Trouble is using Word is just shooting themselves in the foot big time. Maybe someone should suggest Firefox - or allow users to choose the rendering engine. It is, after all, rather reinventing the wheel when most people will have multiple engines installed already!!

Anyway, thanks for the heads up - I wasn't totally convinced about the upgrade to the ribbon interface but this has finally convinced me to leave it at Office 2003 which works fine.

Not sure about PST backward compatibility but Office 2007 comes in various flavours - some of which don't include Outlook 2007. Why not uninstall Outlook 2007 and go back to Outlook 2003 which should coexist quite happily with the other Office 2007 apps.

Before you do it however I would strongly suggest that you export all mail to Outlook Express from every PST file you have opened in Outlook 2007 because I think they changed the PST format between versions and also your contacts (you can import it back in to Outlook 2003 if you need to).

I'm not sure how you could salvage other data types such as tasks, calendar etc. but you may be able to export them in a CSV file or Excel file.

Whatever you do backup your PST files before messing then at  least you can return to Outlook 2007 if you feel it is causing problems.

IIRC when they gave out the public beta and RC1 and 2 of Office 2007 it didn't install Outlook 2007 because of backward compatibility issues.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2007, 02:04:47 PM by Carol Haynes »

Veign

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2007, 02:42:32 PM »
Does this help the speed issue:
http://www.veign.com...of-outlook-2007.html
Veign,

Thanks for the link, but I have already applied the patch, along with many other fixes suggested on various forums. And the patch didn't really help. One of the reasons for the slowness is that the combination of a new database format and the use of Windows Desktop Search for indexing means that there's lot more writing to the hard disk going on all the time as you use Outlook.

I even read one quote from an MS bod who had the nerve to say that the problem was caused by users' large PST files and that "people shouldn't be using it as an archive"! I know what he means, but on the other hand, back when they released Outlook 2003, they boasted about the fact that the PST size limit had gone up from 2GB to 20GB.

My PST is less than 500MB, and it performed fine in Outlook 2003. Outlook 2007 is the problem. I can only presume that everyone at MS uses some form of super-computer and they never, ever see speed issues.

Thanx for the followup.  Good to know...

wraith808

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2007, 10:08:55 AM »
Speaking of .PSTs... I just found out that even 2k3 does some stupid things.  My .PST was 1.5GB, and I decided to split it into a current PST and an archive PST.  I made the archive PST in 2k3 format and it ballooned to 2.6GB(!).  I created a new 2k2 compatible PST and copied everything from the 2k3 one and it went back down to 1.5GB.  That's advancement for you!

CWuestefeld

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2007, 02:35:56 PM »
The PST format change (allowing larger capacity) came with Outlook 2003. I had 3GB stored under that version, before upgrading to Office 2007. On the other hand, my officemate annually archives into new PST files, so he only has the current year's stuff open.

Both of us suffer from complete freezing of the whole computer when Outlook is downloading mail. That is, other applications like Firefox are affected as well. The effect is bad enough that I've considered abandoning Office 2007.

It definitely seems to be related to the upgrade. Even with huge data files, it didn't happen in 2003, and even with smaller data files, it still happens in 2007.

It feels like a threading issue, where the application is behaving particularly badly and freezing the desktop's UI thread. However, Windows has been immune to this particular problem since (IIRC) Win2K, so that can't be the actual issue. But whatever it is, it sucks.

CWuestefeld

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2007, 02:40:11 PM »
even 2k3 does some stupid things.  My .PST was 1.5GB, and I decided to split it into a current PST and an archive PST.  I made the archive PST in 2k3 format and it ballooned to 2.6GB(!).
There's actually a good reason for that. The 2K3 format changed in order to support Unicode, where (for practical purposes) each character takes 2 bytes. This support would have effectively halved the capacity of the file, and thus broken it for many existing users, so they had to do something in order to expand the max capacity.

Anyway, the reason it got so much bigger is that all the text it contains now occupies twice as much space.

If this bothers you, you won't get anywhere by arguing with Microsoft. You're more likely to convince the entire world to speak English so they don't need Unicode.  :D

Clive

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2007, 10:14:40 PM »
On a related note, another thing that was made clear while Office was in beta is that Outlook 2007 can import pst files created in 2003 and earlier, but pst files created/updated in Outlook 2007 can not be exported back into Outlook 2003. I am SO glad that I caught that before blithely migrating everything into the beta, which is what I had planned to do!

I wish I'd known this before I blithley upgraded to Outlook 2007. The reason being that when I wanted to confirm that .pst backups were occurring correctly (in Outlook 07) I tried restoring the backup. As you may know this process opens the backed up Personal Folders below the current Personal Folders. Whenever I attempt this process the computer freezes and I get the error message "this program is not responding". Now I live in fear of losing all my precious Outlook data & I can't go back to 2003.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2007, 03:20:38 AM »
You can go back to Outlook 2003 but it may take a little effort.

Firstly you can export all your email and contacts to Outlook Express and then reimport them into Outlook 2003.

Not sure about other things like calendar though?

Looking at Outlook 2003 File > Import and Export ... there seems to be an option to export to CSV files (and a variety of other file formats) so it may be worth experimenting a bit - just keep a backup of your current PST until you are sure it has all worked.

Edit:

Just checked and you can export contacts and calendar as Excel files. I have tried the export functions and they seem to work OK but I have not tried the import functions. The only problems you may encounter are:

  • The Excel files created by Outlook 2007 may be Excel 2007 format files so you will need to open them in Excel and save them in a format likely to be understood by Outlook 2003 (I'd guess standard XLS format will do it).
  • You may need to manually map field names during export and import to Excel files (read the help files in Outlook for this).
  • Calendar recurring appointments cannot be exported but you can specify a date range. I tried 1/1/1900 to 1/1/2020 and then it basically exported all recurring appointments in the past from the date they were set up and inserted appointments up to 2020 that have not yet occurred. Obviously you wouldn't want to do that but you could do it until the end of the year to make sure you catch all recurring appointments and then they can be setup again manually after importing the XLS file.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 03:39:52 AM by Carol Haynes »

johnk

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2007, 07:17:13 AM »
Well, I just couldn't stand it any more, not for another day. So last night I moved my email to Thunderbird.

I was very impressed with the Thunderbird import wizard. Just pointed it to my Outlook 2007 PST (500MB file), and off it went. Twenty minutes later, all my mail, contacts book and account settings were in Thunderbird, without a glitch. Message filters don't import, unfortunately, but that's a one-off inconvenience.

I'm sure I'll have plenty to moan about in a few days, but at the moment I'm just enjoying the speed of Thunderbird (relative to OL2007, anyway). Syncing with my PDA will be the challenge...

CWuestefeld

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2007, 08:00:50 AM »
Does this help the speed issue:
http://www.veign.com...of-outlook-2007.html
I installed this yesterday afternoon, and while it's too early to tell definitively, I believe that it has improved the situation.

Second Shadow

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2007, 02:43:45 AM »
Well, I just couldn't stand it any more, not for another day. So last night I moved my email to Thunderbird.

This may be a little late since you alreeady moved to Thunderbird. But if you find that TB doesn't fulfill your needs beyond e-mail management you may want to take a look at Barca (http://www.pocosyste...p;id=9&Itemid=27)
It's the PIM I'm using right now and I'm very happy with it.

Clive

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Re: Outlook 2007 - a rant
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2007, 02:11:59 AM »
This excerpt from an article by David Flynn in the Australian PC User mag (04/07) may be of interest to users of Outlook who keep it running continuously and who are noticing their systems bogging down :

...a common cause of Outlook slow-downs is a bloated .pst. The .pst file stores all your e-mails (sent and received), address cards, appointments & tasks. E-mails will quickly balloon the file to enormous proportions, especially if they have attachments. This can result in a .pst of several hundred megabytes (or even gigabytes if you are like me!).
This slows your system down because Outlook tries to keep as much of the .pst as possible in memory, and even if it offloads part of it into virtual memory, those hard disk accesses just take longer again.
The first fix is to delete e-mails you don't need, especially those with attachments. If you need only the attachment save it to a folder on the hard drive & delete the e-mail. Next compact the .pst file (like defragging the HD) - select File -> Data File Management ->  Data Files tab -> click on Settings button -> click on Compact Now

Italics are my comments.
Trust someone will find this useful.