Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Another Vista and Outlook 2007 annoyance – dialing options

Posted by shannonclark on April 7, 2007

I just started entering data into my brand new installation of Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager.

On the very first business contact, however, I have encountered a pretty obnoxious bit of assumptions by Microsoft.

Specifically after I entered a phone number into the new contact record, a dialog popped up called “Location Information”.

In this dialog Outlook is asking that I enter what country I am in, what my area or city code is, what carrier code I would need, and what number I would need to dial an outside number. I.E. the assumption here is that I would, of course, have this machine connected to a phone line and somehow want it to be dialing phone numbers for me.

Now, if this was possible to configure to use Skype, I might, in fact, think about doing that (some of the time).

But I am almost always mobile with this machine (it is a tablet PC after all, I bought it for use on the road).

I will probably NEVER use this machine, at least via Outlook, to initialize a call. Wouldn’t even think about it in fact.

But apparently if I do not enter this data, I can not continue. For if I close this dialog without putting in my area code, an error message pops up and I am returned to the dialog box. If I close it entirely, another message pops up which says:

Windows needs telephone information about the location from which you will be dialing. If you cancel without providing this information, this program may not function correctly when dialing. In addition, some applications respond to your canceling this dialog box by immediately re-posting it.

Are you sure you want to cancel?


When/where did I indicate that I would want my tablet dialing out? From this message it appears to be baked into Vista, not just Office 2007 (or else it is a case of really poor error messages – “some applications” in place of the actual application generating this message.

I don’t know what I can do to get past this. I really don’t want my laptop thinking it will be dialing phones. All I want to do is enter data, lots of it, as fast as possible.

I literally have a stack of about 1000 business cards which I want to sort and enter this weekend. The contacts I have made in the past year, most of whom I want to follow up with, and most of whom I have neglected to enter fully into my address lists.

Is it so hard for Microsoft to imagine that a user of a computer, even a business user, might not, in these days of pervasive, high speed wifi, want that laptop using a modem or making phone calls over a POTS line?  (which if I didn’t have to have currently to get DSL service I would gladly do without?)

23 Responses to “Another Vista and Outlook 2007 annoyance – dialing options”

  1. Ed Abbott said

    I have experienced the same error and I wish that I could find a resolution. Major bug in Outlook 2007.

  2. ICT said

    Problem can be “fixed” by just entering the required info once;
    Outlook won’t ask you again. Shame you have to enter info you don’t want to use though…

  3. AnnoyingOutlook said

    This is really annoying problem, i too encountered it and searched online for any information. As said above, “filling up an area code” looks like the only solution to yet another stunning microsoft + outlook venture! 😦 :angry: Why do they need my location??

  4. Wow, you guys are stupid said

    holy crap. I cannot believe you people are so up in arms over this. You are prompted for this info once and that is the end of it. Outlook uses this info to help you when filling out your contact cards, thereby correctly formatting the numbers for your region. IE, if you are in North America, +1 (123) 456-7890, versus in Europe where numbers are longer and formatted totally differently.

    Try having a global view…….

  5. a few, of the many issues with this:

    – I do, in fact, have contacts with global numbers – I’d much prefer to choose how to format those as needed (or better yet not have my tool force any particular format on my data at all)

    – “dialing data” is, as I noted, not needed UNLESS I actually wanted to use my contact data in that manner – and further if you say “but you might be syncing that data” – I would further point out that say my cell phone might require very different dialing requirements than say a corporate phone system (though why my personal data on my personal laptop would be connected to a corporate phone system I don’t know)

    And as I noted the other major issue here is that MSFT’s error messages are horrible! It is unclear if this message is from Vista (as I suspect) or from Office – and in either case this type of behavior by any tool I’m using is just unacceptable.

    Fundamentally I should be able to use a tool BEFORE I have to make decisions which have unknown to me when I make them implications as to how that tool will function in the future. I simply wanted to open the application and do a very basic task (add data) – I did not want to set some preference which would modify how my tool worked and which I would not know how to adjust in the future.

    I stand by my original post – Vista & Office 2007 are horrible, awful, terrible products – poorly designed, not well tested, with badly written error messages, poor UI, and in short are steps backwards from earlier and more productive (and consistent) applications.

  6. Wow, you guys are stupid said


  7. Wow, You Guys Are Stupid is STUPID said

    It is datamining at it finest and there is absolutely no reason to require this information. Still researching the regisistry to HACK this crap out. Don’t use a modem, never again will. I want to format my information the way I want the data. “Wow, You Guys Are Stupid” is ignorant of data manipulation.

  8. taxlion said

    The above message is really annoying. I don’t mind entering the information once. But the Location Drop Down Manu is blank !!! How can I enter anything into it? Someone has any solution please

  9. Frank said

    I agree with Shannonclark. I had a lot of contacts from older versions of Outllok, filled the dialog box once, and now everytime I open one of them, they get the dialing info. Then, I sink it with my Blackberry, and the phone doesn’t know what to do with them and won’t dial, so I have to edit each phone to remove the freaking dialing info.. very anoying.

    So, did anyone actually find a solution or this thread just for group suport ?

  10. Jason said

    Ditto for me to… I have data coming from my client database into outlook thats all fine and links well…. but when i connect my mobile phone outlook insists on putting the international dial numbers so my phone does not know what it is and cant recognise incoming calls.

    I dont know why MS needs to do this or at least there should be some method to turn it off or globally alter the formatting like in Excel

  11. Scott Slanda said

    “holy crap. I cannot believe you people are so up in arms over this.”
    Well, I just got POS Office 07 on a new computer at work, having resisted the upgrade for years, for precisely reasons like this.
    How hard is it, if you make a cancel button available to the user, to make it cancel? And I’m an IT professional, and don’t appreciate a software vendor making me fill in info I’ll never, ever use. It’s a matter of principle for me.
    If you don’t understand why IT professionals get upset over stuff like that, then you’re not an IT professional yourself, or you need to get out more.
    1. I’ll waste time getting around stupid features like this, including using the web interface to add contacts.
    2. I’ll also stall on MS Office upgrades as long as possible with as many users as possible, because each upgrade has a new “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” feature.

  12. Joyce G said

    Useful article here:
    and I agree with Scott – I spend a long time suppressing this kind of intrusion on my computer.

  13. Michael said

    I agree 100% with shannonclark. Microsoft must have an “Assumptions” Department. Every product they produce comes with settings based on what someone there thinks I would want. However, this is a bug in Outlook. When I enter a phone number in a Contact, I get stuck in an endless loop. I should be able to cancel the entry of the phone number. I’m never going to dial any phone number from this computer.

  14. Peter said

    I thank everyone for their input to this issue. Also when I entered the location/dialing information for one contact, a prompt appeared asking if this is my default location. I answered yes and I’m no longer prompted for location information per contact.


    • The point of my post is that setting my default location/dialing info is senseless, pointless information and I shouldn’t have to enter it even just once to use my applications.

      1. I’ll NEVER use my laptop to dial out (it does still have a modem but no laptop I buy in the future ever will – and I’ll never plug my laptop into a phone

      2. I do NOT have a “default” location – did I mention I have a laptop – the whole point of having a laptop is that I am mobile, usually working from a different location every day. I don’t have a default phone – and in any case WHAT DOES IT MATTER TO OUTLOOK?

      – I do not say “because you sync Outlook to your cellphone”…. My cell phone isn’t part of my phone network – it is part of a wireless carrier’s network and whatever dialing code my office might have (if I had an office with such a phone system in the first place) my cell phone isn’t part of it.

      This is a case of Microsoft ignoring reality for the momentum of legacy apps – though truthfully I have no clue why or when such a code would have ever been useful to the vast majority of computer users (I’ve never once had a computer which was always connected to a phone or which I ever used to dial regular voice calls). If I needed to today I might use Skype – but mostly I use that only for Skype-to-Skype conversations.

  15. MSH001 said

    Outlook 2007 Contacts can be used to call a contact when digital phone system software is installed on the PC, such as Shoretel.

    • But the chance that I will EVER use my computer to make phone calls via such a system is less than ZERO. I have no interest and can foresee no instance when I would ever consider installing or using such software or connecting my tablet laptop to such a phone system. ZERO. So why should I have to do anything related to such a low probability case?

      For that matter in over 20+ years of using computers & maintaining computers for myself, my companies and for countless clients I have never once seen such as system in place at any client I have worked at or any company I have owned or supported. Not once. And this includes some of the very largest firms in the world.

  16. J said

    Worse yet … when I try to satisfy it by entering the information, the COuntry pull-down list is blank and it won’t accept a blank Country. Something seriously screwed up with Win 7 and Outlook 2007.

  17. bob said

    This is just stupid. I have five default area codes

  18. Wow YGAS is an idiot said

    i work in Dubai, and I call internationally about 50% of the time. I use four different devices depending on my location and situation. This BUG is a big PITA. I need it to just accept the number as I enter it, and stop asking me for information. For the idiot “Wow,” I’m very glad you live in a glass bubble where everything is candy canes and apple pie, but out here in the real world, time is money and default options don’t work always for each person in the default way. Taking time to click THREE TIMES telling the machine “no,” is a large waste of time and effort. Plus the fact I have to remove my hands from the keyboard to use the mouse wastes additional time. if I change the option for my location, Windows/Outlook adds numbers or removes numbers from the telephone number making the information INCORRECT for one or more of the situations I’ll need the number for.

    I fully agree that MS is set up for idiots and people who know something about computers are constantly burdened defeating all of the MS stuff that interferes with using the computer efficiently.

  19. JW said

    If you don’t use the modem at all, you can resolve this pop-up request by stopping the Telephony service and setting the value to Disabled. This is easily done if User Account Control has been disabled first. Otherwise, to stop the Telephony service, you need to set the Startup Type for the Telephony service to Disabled, and then reboot the workstation. Windows will no longer need a home area code then.

  20. Joanne said

    Really crazy set up. I did go in and put my area code and a number if you dial out. It now lets me put my numbers in without the annoyance of the pop-up. Who uses dial up as a default any more? It should ask if you have dialup or have a setting for defaulting to other than dial up. At least it works now but it’s certainly annoying and uncalled for. 🙂

    Lady Venom

  21. Peter Gough said

    Like the mess MS has made of skype. They even make a mess of Office 2007.

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