Searching for the Moon

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

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.

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8 Responses to “Outlook 2007 bugs and UI issues”

  1. Dana said

    I am curious to know how exactly you setup your gmail accounts in outlook 2007. Also I have checked everything on the microsoft site on how to setup gmail accounts and checked my firewall and everything I know it is something with outlook. I have been having a problem since I installed office 2007 in outlook in the fact that I can receive email fine from all my gmail accounts within outlook but I am not able to send email out at all it just sits in the outbox and always ends up failing…any help on this is greatly appreciated

  2. John Clow said

    When entering text in the Message form, placing an apostrophe seems to insert a tab after the apostrophe so there is a large gap between the apostrophe and the next letter. Ever heard of this before? I went to Word 2007 to see if it was a problem with the Word editor but it works properly there.

  3. Judy said

    Have you seen or heard of a problem with Outlook 2007 on Windows XP Pro putting in a tab space before the apostrophy in a word like don’t looks like don ‘t. It doesn’t do this in a reply msg. only a new msg.

    I already tried re-installing MS Outlook and it did the same thing. Others in my office are not having this problem.

    Thanks,

  4. Neena said

    Well, yes, I have the same problem. But when I print the document, it looks fine. Does that help anyone sort it out?

  5. Cliff Porter said

    I’m having a simular problem w/Outlook screen turning white. I’m running Vista on my laptop, Have cable broadband internet. Something bad has happened lately to Outlook when I’m checking and deleting emails. The first one or two delete without a problem. Once I start deleting more the process slows down and the doenut keeps going around and around and the program window fades out and I notice up in the left corner it says (Not Responding). I did an office repair and no change. MacAfee is not picking up any viruses. I don’t know, outlook is rendered useless by something. It does it when I’m hooked up to my air card through Verizon as well. At Microsoft, None of us are as dumb as all of us.

  6. Nicolaus Copernicus said

    MS Office 2007 is essentially a UI wrap of arlier versions that still contain many of the old bugs, particularly in formatting documents.

    Microsoft, which ‘inherited’ Word processing from Word Perfect, is yet to rid it of untold bugs in formatting. I encountered three this afternoon in a session that lasted 90 minutes and I couldn’t fix them. I then downloaded OpenOffice. At least I know that if I have a bug, it came with free software and no High-and-Mighty zombie would claim that it is a feature and that I am a naiive user.

    So far, two days running, no problems with OpenOffice. That is not what I can say about MS Office 2007, which replaced my MS Office 2003.

    I am advising all my clients to make a move and rid themselves of hefty licenses particularly since the European Union High Court ordered MS to pay $42 billion and make sure documents are interoperable with OpenOffice.

    I hope they will catch on this silly window that opens up everytime you click on an OpenOffice document, and ‘innocently’ ask you to name the applications… and when you set the type and name the application, it will sadly forget it, pronto!

    I shudder at the thought of using MS software for enterprise computing… And are PAYING for it!

  7. Amit said

    I have an issue with the UI of the compose message window of outlook 2007 on my windows XP SP2 laptop.
    The Send button, To and CC buttons have old and ugly look and feel just like the default buttons in windows 2000. The send button is missing the envelope like background image also not blue. I have reinstalled outlook and applied SP1 + updates also but still the problem exists. I am curious if there is some patch or change i can make to fix this?

  8. Dennis Searles said

    I just installed outlook 2007 – i have set up the account correctly. When I go to create a message, the SEND button is missing. How do i get it to appear. thanks, Dennis

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