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Summary:

Due to the nature of my work evaluating the Skype ecosystem’s software, web-based applications and a variety of smartphones, I not only have to use Outlook as a primary reference address book for synchronizing contact information but also end up constipating the registry of my Windows […]

Due to the nature of my work evaluating the Skype ecosystem’s software, web-based applications and a variety of smartphones, I not only have to use Outlook as a primary reference address book for synchronizing contact information but also end up constipating the registry of my Windows installation about once a year.

It eventually gets to a point where I have to backup all my documents and application data and rebuild Windows. I had reached this point a couple of weeks ago. But this time it happened at an opportune time when I found the local Staples was selling Office 2007 Small Business Edition upgrade at a 40% discount.

Having seen favorable reviews and had limited experience with other Office 2007 modules on a recently purchased desktop (that serves as a backup PC), I bought. Now my laptop’s Outlook operation runs much more smoothly and quickly as a result; it boils down to “search”.

One of my frustrations with Outlook was the ability to find stored emails by searching contact names, email addresses or specific words in the messages. With Outlook 2000/2003 a utility called Lookout served the purpose quite transparently to my operation since I could set it to index during my sleeping hours. But Microsoft purchased Lookout to incorporate its algorithms into Microsoft Desktop Search which I found to be burdensome to my laptop’s operation; I tolerated it at best. (Based on reviews and a bad experience I totally bypassed Outlook XP.)

Trialing the beta of Xobni, which not only provides search but also records all your Outlook activity with the contact related to the email being viewed, slowed down my overall Outlook operation, both on opening Outlook and then looking at emails.

Having worked with Outlook 2007 for about a week, its internal search (which probably has Lookout’s algorithms as a basis) has proven to be fast enough such that Outlook now operates much more smoothly and at very reasonable speeds. I find other benefits such as improved management of Safe Senders. The time regained in managing my email will probably provide a full payback for the cost of the upgrade very quickly.

We can get complacent in tolerating software that does the job but has inhibited performance. It pays once in a while to go back and look at our options. If you’re still running an older version of Office/Outlook and especially are constrained to requiring it, it would be worthwhile to consider Office/Outlook 2007 – and keep an eye on your retailers for the occassional sale.

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  1. Hey Jim,

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have a great first experience with Xobni. Most users happily use Xobni daily, but in some cases our users have experienced a performance hit – Outlook is a tough nut to crack. We think the pain point in Outlook and in managing personal information is large enough to warrant the effort we have put and will continue to put into Xobni. Hope you’ll try us again soon.

    Thanks,
    Matt
    Founder, Xobni

  2. Its called Google desktop…..It searches your email, faster, better, and looks inside docs etc etc.
    How much did MSFT pay for this tripe?

  3. Why did you call this a “wake-up call”. You claim that Outlook 2007 works better than previous versions, but I don’t know which previous version. You claim you didn’t ever use Outlook XP, which indicates you may have stuck with 2000. That’s immaterial anyway, because improving Outlook’s search is not a killer feature.

    Here’s a wake-up call for potential Office 2007 users. The new ribbon interface is a chore to get used to, but that’s not the biggest problem, because we’re all smart enough to figure it out. The whole interface including redesigned dialogs and the loss of easy customization, undockable toolbars, and tear-away palettes, makes users much less productive than any previous version of Office. What used to take one or two mouse clicks and a couple inches of mouse travel, now takes three or more clicks and a foot or more of mouse travel. The trusty old F4 (or Ctrl-Y) shortcut key, used to repeat the last action, once saved many keystrokes at each use, but has been hobbled in 2007, as has the Ctrl-Z Undo command.

    Before you go willy-nilly upgrading because of a nice enhancement of one program, make sure you understand what you sacrifice.

  4. FWIW, I use Copernic Desktop Search v2.3 to search through my Outlook 2003 mail rather than the built-in search options. It’s really quick, has keyboard shortcuts to reply/forward mail from and the preview pane is very handy.

  5. Goodness, people – take a chill pill. Is it because it’s election season?

    I upgraded to MS Office 2007 and could never go back. I’m not going to list the benefits – those kinds of reviews are everywhere. What I can tell you is that everyone I know who has actually used it says that, after a day or two getting used to it, it’s a vast improvement in usability alone.

    Am I biased? Sure! It’s just me talking here. But I love it and highly recommend it. Great post here.

  6. Tom, Copernic had also been recommended to my by an acquaintance who is pretty brutal about recommending products for everyday use; certainly worth a try if you don’t want the full Office upgrade. But when the price for an Office 2007 Upgrade was right, I jumped.

    Steve, favorable reports from other users was certainly in the “back of mind” when I made the decision to upgrade. Thanks.

    Jon, improving Outlook’s search is a “killer feature” for my activities when my Outlook archives contain lots of useful business information. And frankly I find myself using fewer keystrokes for many activities.

  7. I upgraded to Office 2007 — twice — and downgraded again. The third time I kept Outlook 2007 and ditched the rest.

    The reason? There was no clear learning path to go from standard menus in Word and Excel 2003 into the new “context” options.

    In my opinion, this was a big design mistake. If one wants people to upgrade quickly, it has to be painless.

    Sure, I could have taken the 2 days to learn the new Excel, but the truth was I needed to access the pivot table formulas *immediately*. I don’t have the luxury of time to learn software that has radically changed its interface.

  8. Amit | Web Design Monday, May 18, 2009

    With the new Office (the 2007) design, look & feel, Microsoft have made a giant leap. True that it takes time to get use to the new ribbon and to get around quickly.. But once you are familiar with it, you rock!

    We do a lot of researches on the web, and using Excel macros,
    we have improved our research speed in 30%. That huge!!

    Using OneNote have improved our research information control (nothing get lost now) and with the sharing files abilities, now everyone can contribute to the project.

    So to summary it all, we are more then happy with the tools that comes in the Office 2007.
    We looking forward to the new one… ;)

    With the SP2 support for open source files,
    our CRM improved since we don’t have to “fight”
    with our clients anymore :)

    The 2007 was a great investment with benefits to us.

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