Transition to Online, Part I (A Bad Outlook for Outlook)

Posted: December 24th, 2009   |   Category: Blog | Labs | Strategy | Tools

As noted a little while ago, I’ve instigated a transition from desktop to online.

This hasn’t been easy, but I’m keen on doing it, and doing it successfully.

Microsoft Outlook

Over the last 5-6 years, I’ve been a pretty consistent user of Microsoft Outlook for managing my email, contacts and calendar.

In terms of product features, I’ve never had an issue.  However, lately I’ve found it impossible to close or start Outlook without having it tell me that I’ve not done it properly.  Every morning when I start my computer, it takes anywhere from5 to 25 minutes (yes, that long) to seemingly hand crank Outlook to life only to have it tell me that something had to be done to ‘repair’ the damage I did when I closed the program.

In a word, this forces me to conclude that Outlook sucks.  Because of this daily and painfully slow start and the fact that it’s a massive memory pig, I was basically being pushed to find a new solution.  Outlook is also an extremely popular target for malware and spam, making all of your information – including confidential client files – vulnerable and making your computer more succeptible to becoming a ‘spam server’ (this is when malware doesn’t destroy files on your computer.  It simply turns your computer into a server for distributing other spam to millions of other users).

More importantly, there was no efficient way to sync my files with Outlook on computer with another and if I was user of a SmartPhone, this issue would only be compounded.

Once I lost one computer and started with Ubuntu, I turned to online ‘always on’ options.

By this, I mean a solution that I could log in to anywhere, anytime and any place.  It would be platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and tool (desktop, laptop, cell phone) agnostic.  The information about me (my dates, notes and other business interactions) would always be the same regardless of how I accessed it.

To my knowledge, Microsoft Outlook does not offer a simple way to migrate all of your information into an online environment.  Truth be told, I didn’t look very hard.

However, I did investigate an array of other online tools and applications including Plaxo, Mail2Web, Google Apps, Thunderbird, HyperOffice and many others.

The criteria that I applied in my search (in my very non-geek way) were pretty much the opposite of all of the negatives listed above:

  1. Secure product
  2. Online accessibility and reliability
  3. Perfect synchronicity with other platforms
  4. Seamless integration of all tools (email, calendar, contacts, etc).

I chose Google Apps.

I’ll cover my transition to Google Apps and more detail about the rationale in a different blog article.

Suffice to say, it’s an extreme pleasure to wake up in the morning and simply open my browser, log in and have everything available.

Instantly.

This is convenience, control and security that I’ve never had using Outlook and I have my doubts that I’ll ever look back and have the ‘I wonder if this was a good idea’ moment.

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