Monday, 19 February 2007

Outlook 2007 - a week in

I've now been using Outlook 2007 for just over a week. Since my last blog on the subject I've spent some time tidying up the toolbars, removing the "Install Desktop Search" nag and now have something reasonably satisfactory, it even seems to be running a bit faster. However I'm still yet to find a way of disabling the floating formatting palette that pops up when I highlight text. I can't be the only person to highlight parts of the text as I'm reading it because I find it easier to read on screen.

The whole Office 2007 ribbon menu thing hasn't really grabbed me yet. I'm not sure what is wrong with traditional drop-down menus. Microsoft say it should be easier to use because everything is only a click away but it just seems like a confusing mess of icons.

The problem with Microsoft's UIs is often the elements seem as if they were designed as 'cool ideas' in isolation of the overall product. Everyone is thinking of what they can add to make it better but no one is thinking what they should leave out.

At the other end of the scale you have Apple who adopt the less-is-more philosophy but often leave out things that many would find useful. Their resistance to things such as the two button mouse, a standard PC keyboard layout and maximise window buttons could be taken as plain stubbornness from the company that prides itself on ease of use.

My preference would be for high configurability (a la Microsoft) but a very simple default view (the Apple way). Not many casual users know how or bother to customise their toolbars to remove the features they will never use but if something more advanced is needed they can add it on.

We are probably going to install a few more copies of Outlook 2007 in the office soon so it will be interesting to see what other people think about it.

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