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Product: Microsoft Office XP Professional With FrontPage
Company: Microsoft
Estimated Street Price: Various
Review By: Byron Hinson & Julien Jay

Microsoft Outlook 2002

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Word 2002
3: Excel 2002
4: Outlook 2002
5: FrontPage 2002
6: Access 2002
7: PowerPoint 2002
9: Conclusion

Microsoft Outlook… What a strange name for an email client! Microsoft Outlook was by far one of the most used programs that I had used along with Microsoft Word. It managed my email, contacts and let me do things in an efficient way. Outlook 10 is more than improved. In fact it was totally revamped especially concerning the email area. New features and improvements are numerous making Outlook better and much more powerful than ever. Microsoft Outlook 10 carries tons of other enhancements listed below:

  • Send Using (E-mail Account Selection) - Users with multiple e-mail accounts (such as a Hotmail account and an account on Exchange) can choose on a per message basis which account to use to send their message. When the user chooses an account, an information bar shows which account is used to send the mail.

  • Rules - Explicit rules are built in to determine which account should be used as the default (e.g., when replying to a message, the account is used that the message was originally sent to) or users can assign a default account for Outlook to use.

  • Smart Tags in Wordmail - With Word as the default e-mail editor, users can take advantage of the Smart Tags that are available in Word (including AutoCorrect, Paste Options, Address, Name, and Date Smart Tags). Smart Tags are context-sensitive buttons that give users the options and information they need at the time they need them.

  • Message Format in Wordmail - Users can easily change between different mail formats on the fly and on a per message basis. By giving users the option to switch between HTML, rich text, or plain text, they can more easily format their message so that the recipient can have the best viewing experience.

  • Text Auto Cleanup - Outlook 10 can automatically clean up plain text e-mail formatting that often contains extra line breaks that make the message difficult to read. Outlook automatically removes the extra line breaks (an option exists to turn this off as well) when a user opens an e-mail message, previews the message in the preview pane, or prints the message so that it is easier to read.

  • Hyperlinks in Subject Line - Outlook 10 mail messages now recognize URLs that are placed in the subject field. This enables users to easily browse to the Web Site using their default browser without having to copy the address first and paste it into their Web browser.

  • There have also been improvements to the Calendar side of Outlook:

    • Group Schedules - Users can save multiple group calendars within Outlook for quick and easy access to their team or conference room schedules. Within this single calendaring interface, users can view the free and busy times of their group as well as easily e-mail or set up an appointment with the entire group.

    • Outlook Free/Busy Sharing - Outlook 10 enables users to share Free/Busy information with others on the Internet for free. This makes it easy to schedule meetings with other Outlook users with whom you don’t share an Exchange server with.

    • Reminder Window - Users now get a single reminder window for all their appointment or task reminders. This enables the user to easily dismiss, snooze, or open one or all of the reminders at once.

    • Calendar Colouring - Users can identify their important appointments via the new colour-coded calendar. The user can apply a colour to individual appointments or they can automatically apply colour by creating automatic formatting rules. Each colour has a label that can be customized by the user.

    • Propose New Time - When receiving a meeting request, users now have the option to propose a new meeting time to the meeting organizer rather than just declining the request. Furthermore, users who have Exchange server can see the free and busy times of each attendee before submitting the new meeting time.

  • To round off the improvements for Outlook they have updated and improved the Contacts and Address Book:

    • Display As Name Field - Contacts now include a Display As field for e-mail names. The name you type in the Display As box appears in the To: field when you compose a message instead of the actual e-mail address.

    • Address Book Column Headings - Column headings are now resizable in width. This enables the user to reveal or conceal columns to show only the information they find useful for address book entry lookup.

    • Contact Address Book (CAB) - The Contact Address Book makes use of the Contact’s “Display Name.” With this column, you can look up contact entries more efficiently, especially with multiple entries for the same contact name.

    • Upload Only Changed Properties - Only changes get uploaded to the Exchange Server, meaning greater performance for users when working in Outlook. For example, today if a user receives a meeting request with a large attachment and they dismiss the meeting, both the dismissal and the large attachment are uploaded back to the server. With the Local Web Storage System, only the dismissal is sent back up to the server.

  • Asynchronous Open Operations - Users can now continue working within Outlook 10 even while large messages are being downloaded from the server.

  • Unplug and Go - A number of benefits enable users to work remotely more effectively without their interaction. For example:

    • Users can switch between online and offline states on demand and without restarting Outlook.

    • Users do not need to synchronize their messages, appointments, etc. This automatically takes place, enabling users to continue to access their information even when not connected to their server.

    • Users can easily customize groups to synchronize for different combinations of accounts and folders. This benefits users by letting them control what gets synchronized automatically and what does not.

  • Progress Reporting - Users can easily see a progress report of the synchronization that is taking place instead of just receiving an “hour-glass” with no clear indication of when synchronization is taking place.

  • Revamped mailbox setup dialog boxes - Outlook XP features brand new mail setup configuration boxes that let users better manage their data files and their email accounts.

Outlook 2002 is one of the better upgraded components in Office XP, e-mail has been greatly improved again in this new version. The new design of Outlook 2002 means a much easier system for setting up and managing your e-mail accounts such as Exchange, POP3, IMAP or HTTP, all of these can be setup through one e-mail account interface. The addition of adding HTTP accounts such as Hotmail is a welcome one but it has again been a long time coming.

E-Mail writing: Word 2002 is now the default e-mail message editor and HTML is the e-mail format and finally it doesn't run too slow to use, one disappointment with the e-mail side of Outlook 2002 is that you still cannot get a print preview of your HTML e-mails. Outlook can also tidy up your plain text messages now by getting rid of any unwanted or off line breaks (although they can be added back to the way they were originally sent if you want them to just by clicking a simple option at the top of your e-mails). One feature I also noticed only today is that hyperlinks are also now added to both subject and body parts of e-mails so that you can click on a link to a website even from the subject line when you receive an e-mail. Auto complete has also been added to Outlook 2002, Outlook will start to complete e-mail addresses you write into a e-mail, but unfortunately this only works if you have sent an e-mail to the recipient before and won't scan you address book to help you out.

Increased security means you cannot now open files that have extensions such as EXE. BAT or VBS, this is all well and good for protecting the user, but there is no option to switch it off other than to edit the registry by hand - something most users will not be willing to fiddle with.

MSN messenger has been integrated into Outlook 2002 (what a surprise), but this isn't installed as a standard part of Office XP as you have to download the latest version of MSN Messenger to get it all working. The integration works by adding a tools menu for you to logon and logoff but also when you receive and e-mail from someone who is on your MSN messenger list it will let you know whether they are online or not...a pretty pointless feature if you ask me.

Thanks to the fact Microsoft Outlook 10 supports multiple folders, you can create rules to automatically transfer incoming emails into a specific folder according to the characteristics of the emails you receive. That is to say you can create a folder for work emails, an other folder for family mails, as well as other folders for unknown & junk emails: that way you can efficiently manage your emails assigning them a priority level of treatment. Just like in Microsoft Outlook 2000 you can request a read receipt for the email you sent so you’re sure recipients read your mails. If you’re like an avid user of email that keeps track of every email over the years you’ll quickly have an enormous inbox with thousands of emails (personally mine reaches more than 8700 received emails!) As a result your storage file gets enormous while loading Outlook can be very long. Here Microsoft has done a good job enhancing core code to faster loading operations: so users with a large inbox don’t wait too much before Outlook start.

But Microsoft didn’t stop here since they even include Mailbox cleanup tool that display the size of the mailbox while enabling users to search for files by size or by age in order to delete, move or archive them so they can free up some space (Exchange users can also automatically be notified when they are approaching their mailbox size limit and choose from the above options for cleaning up their mailbox).

The search feature of Outlook has also been revamped: when you enable the search feature a simple small toolbar appears with a text case where you’ll have to type the content you’re searching for. This doesn’t cumber the screen and allows you to still view received emails. As part of the core enhancement the search feature finds items much faster than before. Obviously advanced searching tools are still available to let you dig in your inbox.

So overall Outlook 2002 manages to be both an excellent upgrade over the previous release Outlook 2000.

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