Improve Your Outlook



Because Office 12 represents the first time we’ve ever introduced a new user
interface for Office, it is understandably garnering a lot of attention. 
Add to that the powerful new open
XML file formats for Office 12 documents
, and it’s tempting to focus the
discussion of Office 12 on just those areas.



However, without resorting to hyperbole, even if the user interface and document format
weren’t changing, Office 12 would still be among the most improved versions of Office
ever.  There are so many improvements, from the new graphics
engine, to rewritten charting and diagramming capabilities, to Document Parts in
Word, to SharePoint integration, to
incredible, substantial improvements everywhere in Excel
.  And don’t
forget the totally redesigned Access.  And PDF/XPS support in all the
products.  And that list goes on and on.



But the most-used component of the Office programs, Outlook, has a ton of new
features in addition to being the single biggest consumer of the new Office 12
UI.  Three of the my favorite advances are the deep RSS integration,
instant powerful search capabilities, and the new task/category integration
(including the To-Do Bar.) You might prefer the deep Exchange 12 integration,
the rewritten account manager, the redesigned Calendar and iCal support, or the
new canvas for composing and reading messages that works like Word but doesn’t
launch a separate process.



I mention all this to call attention to a set of Outlook blogs that I think you’ll
find interesting.  Having "grown up" at Microsoft working on Outlook, I’ll
always have a soft spot for that product.  Each of these blogs contains some detailed
insight into a different part of Outlook 12, and I encourage you to spend some
time reading about what’s possible in the new version directly from the people working on it.

Will’s Outlook Blog:
Will is the General Manager of Outlook and one of my most important mentors
at Microsoft.  His blog covers overall improvements and the philosophy of
Outlook 12.


Michael’s Outlook Blog:
Michael covers two main topics in depth in his blog–RSS integration and the
new search capabilities of Outlook 12.


Melissa’s Outlook Blog:
Melissa has written in detail about Time and Task Management in Outlook 12,
especially about the redesigned task and categories model and the To-Do Bar.


Ryan’s Outlook Programmability
Blog
: Ryan covers a number of improvements to the programmability model
of Outlook 12, and the ramifications of these changes to existing solutions.


And just a reminder that, once you’re finished with these, you can find other
Office blogs written by members of the product team by looking in the "Microsoft
Office Blogs" category over in right column of this page.



Office 12 is so much more than "just the UI."

Comments (11)

  1. Dennis says:

    So you got a Melissa working on the Outlook team?

  2. Andy C says:

    "Outlook, has a ton of new features in addition to being the single biggest consumer of the new Office 12 UI"

    Seems an odd comment, given that Outlook is the one part of Office 12 that doesn’t seem to have changed UI substantially (e.g. no Ribbon) – I’ll admit the new calendar looks funky though!

  3. MSDNArchive says:

    I thought that was an odd statement, too, but it’s not quite accurate to say that Outlook doesn’t have the ribbon – it does have the ribbon on some windows (like "the new canvas for composing and reading messages that works like Word")

  4. Doug says:

    "you can find other Office blogs written by members of the product team by looking in the "Microsoft Office Blogs" category over in right column of this page."

    Unfortunately, unlike you (and some of the Outlook bloggers you mention, others of your colleagues haven’t quite got the idea of posting regularly. Word may have more users than any other component, but there’s hardly anything Joe’s blog can find to say about it!

  5. Dave says:

    It would be really good to learn something about the improvements to Word – apart from the UI changes, but the blog appears to have stalled.

    Can you apply a little internal pressure?

  6. KirkMorrant says:

    Just regarding the previous few comments, I think we’ve been spoiled by Jensen.

    I don’t think it would be too presumptuous of me to say thank you to Jensen on behalf of all regular readers of this blog. It is a very interesting and often entertaining pastime to check in every day to see a new posting.

  7. So Outlook will utilize the "Ribbon" just as other OFFICE apps will? That’s good to hear, but I’m surprised why none of the screenshots I’ve seen (of Outlook 12) show a ribbon in the UI at all. In fact, based on what I’ve seen, Outlook 12 doesn’t really look much different than the current release.

  8. jensenh says:

    Kent,

    Outlook is a hyrbid app in Office 12, which explains the confusion. The shell is still menus and toolbars-based, while all of the places you actually read and author content (mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, etc.) are Ribbon-based.

    You can find more explanation about this in the FAQ section under “Which programs get the Ribbon?”

  9. ltshaw711 says:

    Outlook came late to Office and you can still tell with Office 12.  It gets some of the UI in certain places, but not others.  Too bad. At this point you should not be able to tell that Outlook was a "purchased" product.  But then again, you can still see that the Outlook Calendar was the old Network Scheduler calendar product, many years after the technology was acquired by MSFT.  Maybe in O12 we will (finally) get a spell checker and same word processing UI in the calendar as the e-mail part.  Here’s hoping!