Monday, October 27, 2008

Outlook Hassles, Zimbra and Web 2.0

I don’t really hate Microsoft Outlook. I’ve trusted it to manage my email and calendars for as long as I can remember. However, as the web has grown up and I’ve begun to rely on a growing number of other services instead of email to collaborate Outlook seems more like a stubborn old partner unwilling to adapt and change. My ultimate frustration is Outlook’s inability to easily exchange contact records with its own sibling, Entourage. What devilish plan did Microsoft have in mind by not simply creating Outlook for the Mac? (PC guy wasn’t even on TV when that decision was made).

Yes, I was able to configure my iPhone to connect to our Exchange server without corporate IT assistance (which I can’t say the same about for my Blackberry), but I think time’s running out for me and the Outlook/Entourage combo. I don’t want my most valuable personal data locked up in .pst formats anymore. I’m not sure I even want to depend on Exchange either, although that’s mostly up to my employer. I’m becoming more comfortable with Gmail each day and while it’s not ready to be my Outlook replacement yet, Web 2.0 applications like Zimbra’s Collaboration Suite (ZCS) just might be.

I want an email client solution that doesn’t care that I live in both a Mac and a Windows world. Ideally, I’d like that solution to behave about the same on my iPhone too. I also don’t want to have to use a half dozen different converters to move my contacts between my social networks, email, IM and other collaborative tools. I’m a content creator and I need my editing tools to work seamlessly together with email and the web so that I can rapidly share my work with others, solicit feedback, secure approvals, and get things published. It would be great if my email tool could help keep track of all these processes too.

When my email client can’t quickly find the contacts I need, I have to engage in time-consuming mailbox searches or begin looking in other services for data it hasn’t already captured. When my email can’t interoperate with my content management system my ability to collaborate on projects slows down. Maybe I’m expecting too much of an email/contact/calendaring tool, but I still want it to be the hub that manages my interactions with others and my tasks. I think it just needs to be a lot more web-aware, and flexible. Proprietary storage formats like .pst really don’t support that kind of improvement.

I watched a Zimbra demo last week that showed how email messages and their associated file attachments could be easily captured, categorized and stored in Xythos using open Zimlet protocols and Xythos’ open API’s. That was an impressive example of the benefits of Ajax based interface design and web-enabled interoperability. What if the next step allowed Zimbra and Xythos services to share each other’s user names and permissions? Maybe all they would need to do is authenticate via a common directory service? OK, great now what about my Google and Linked In contact lists? Could those be accessed by Zimbra as well?

Even if I could just find a way to make my contacts more portable and accessible to my other apps and devices, that would be a big plus for me. How is this working for you? Does anyone have suggestions who has tried to tackle this issue? Are we going to have to wait for a cloud based OS or something like that? BTW – If you’re interested in seeing that Zimbra demo, it should be posted over under “Events” shortly. Better yet, if you’re attending the annual Educause event this week in Orlando visit either the Xythos or Zimbra booths and see it live for yourself.


Alex said...

In the internet there is one good application-download pst recovery utility,it works with corrupted and deleted mails,and it helped me some weeks ago when I was in difficult condition,it can process PST and OST files and extract all critical data, no need to wait, it is very fast,supports all Microsoft Windows operating systems, starting from Windows 98 to Windows Vista,working with Outlook pst data recovery software and .pst recovery program,will recreate folder structure and all messages, which are found in your mailbox,preview the results and make sure, that all emails are successfully repaired.

Alexis said...

For solve problems with outlook files I often use-reading ost files,because this tool helped me not once and it has free status as far as I remember.Besides that software can read ost files without Outlook and save all your emails, contacts, tasks and calendars.

Alex said...

Some time ago I knew about new tool-outlook pst fix,which I found on a blog.Utility helped me in seconds and free of cost.Program demonstrated how recover data from Microsoft Exchange .ost files and convert them into Microsoft Outlook .pst files.