Outlook 2007 bugs and UI issues
Posted by shannonclark on April 7, 2007
As I continue on my path of setting up my new laptop, I have been working on getting Outlook 2007 configured and working. Working as in, spent many hours this afternoon and missed lunch trying to get what should be simple things set up.
So, in this post, a few of the bugs (my opinion), user interface (UI) gripes, and other problems I have found with Outlook 2007, all in just the initial getting it setup. I’m sure when I also go to importing my nearly 9+ gb worth of archived mail in previous versions of Outlook formats, I will find new and different sets of bugs.
I should note, that even in my current relatively quiet mode being pre-launch with my new company NELA I still receive hundreds of emails, to put it into perspective in the past <10 days I received over 4000 emails, of which Outlook 2007’s junk filters determined that about 2500 of which were spam. And that does not include how ever countless spam messages are sent to random addresses at one of my multiple domains and are promptly just automatically deleted.
So for me a highly functional email tool is not a luxury, rather it is a necessity. For about the past 6 months or so I have mostly used gmail, via the web or my cell phone, as my primary mail client. But that has been mostly possible because I have been doing relatively low volumes of outbound email, and my needs have been relatively minimal. I have gmail set up to auto-label and sort most of my active mailing lists and generally enjoy using it. But there are some issues with the mobile version (not the Java client but the mobile web) and my cell phone (around sending outbound messages).
But most seriously I do need to in the near future send out lots of emails – at least hundreds, possibly close to 1000 or so, as I start inviting the 100’s of people I have met recently to NELA, and as I begin ramping up our sales, marketing, and PR efforts.
So, on my new laptop I installed Office 2007 (Microsoft gave me a full license for attending the Office 2007 launch event in San Francisco).
When I booted up Outlook for the first time, set up my initial account, I encountered my first problem with Outlook UI (and one that I would nearly call a bug).
That is, it was all too easy to set up the account and not realize that it was set to auto send & receive, both on starting up Outlook and every 30 minutes. Further, by default, mail is set to be deleted from the server.
My practice has long been to retain mail on my pop3 server for 10 days as an automated backup. More than once this has saved me in the past – when Outlook or my local disk crashed, when something went wrong, when I have moved to a new machine, the ability to get caught up with my past 10 days worth of mails has been very important.
And yes, perhaps I should look at moving to an IMAP server seup (as many of my alpha geek friends have done).
Earlier today, however, I also found a rather odd bit of behavior on Outlook 2007’s part, and one that is symptomatic of a fundamental UI issue.
I had two accounts configured, one for my old company JigZaw, one for gmail. I set these up in part to test outbound SMTP service via my DSL (which I thought might be an issue). Running into issues with my old company’s outbound SMTP server settings, I decided to try to remove that account and just use the gmail account for the moment.
So, naturally I looked at the Send/Receive settings (under Tools, Send/Receive, Send/Receive Settings) where I saw a menu option of “Define Send/Receive Groups”.
First minor UI nit – the dialog box that opens up is titled “Send/Receive Groups”, dropped the “Define” somewhere.
This is where I turned off the auto send/receive every 30 minutes (I don’t like my mail clients fetching mail – and thus using bandwidth etc when I don’t ask them to directly, all too often this would happen as I want to shutdown while mobile – say at/during a meeting, in a cafe etc).
From here, I had to click “edit” to select the All Accounts group and edit it. That led to a very new looking dialog where the three accounts I had set up were displayed on the left (apparently RSS which I hadn’t configured is considered an account by this dialog – more on this in a bit).
I selected the JigZaw account, and asked that it be removed from the All Accounts group (by unselecting a checkbox)
Fine, I thought, that’s great. I did a send/receive – and yes, it only checked my gmail account (didn’t seem to that time at least check RSS).
So I went along, read some emails, and then had something I had to send to my business partner. I opened up a new email, composed the email, and sent it.
Then I selected the send/receive. And I noticed a problem It was trying to send via TWO accounts. Via my gmail (which happened very quickly – nothing to send as it turns out) and then via JigZaw. Which failed (as I mentioned, the outbound SMTP server configuration was not working).
So now I tried to figure out what was happening. I went back to the send/receive settings, and yes, only gmail and rss were set up there.
I did some more digging. Down a bit farther on the Tools menu, I saw a line “Account Settings …”
I opened this up – a very different looking dialog opened up. And in there, I saw that my jigzaw account was still set as the default for sending mail.
I think this is a bug. If you remove that account from the All Accounts group – shouldn’t it no longer be the default? At the very least, why do you have to go to two different dialogs which look and feel very different to change that behavior?
Now about the RSS feeds. I could have sworn that when I installed and first set up Outlook 2007 I had removed all of the default feeds (so as to have no feeds at all configured). But just now, I looked, and all three default feeds from Microsoft were set for me to download. I will now try to remove them entirely – I wonder how many different dialogs I’ll have to use to do that.
My UI gripe is that all of these dialogs look, feel and act differently from each other. And that menus that imply one thing then open up boxes that call themselves something different. I am a seriously advanced user (I’ve looked deeply into the Sendmail manuals, remember helping people set up their mail routing paths in the early 90’s, heck I even helped edit some of the calendaring IETF specifications). Outlook 2007’s maze of options and dialogs, each looking and acting differently and with no single, unified way to get to all of the options that effect how my system works is confusing for me.
For everyone else, I can only imagine it is even more so.