A Wake Up Call for Pre-Office 2007 Users

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.