Outlook Sucks, Part II


A little while ago I lamented the fact that my office had switched to Outlook, and I announced to the global community at large who reads my website (approximately four people) that Outlook Sucks. It still does. Along the way, I have groused about it to my colleagues here in the office, and now that one of my co-workers has fled Boulder to work at our San Fransisco office, we continue to rail against the sloppy, bloated, non-functional pile of email code excrement via instant messenger. But it's not enough folks, it's not enough. Now, every time something pisses me off about Outlook, it's going on here.

And, begin:

Today I received a duplicate copy of an email forward from a co-worker, that was originally sent two days ago. This struck me as odd. Did he re-send it and forget he'd already forwarded it? He mentioned that he had problems sending it (big surprise, he was using Outlook to send it, after all) and had asked if I had received two copies the other day. I hadn't. So I assumed this new copy was the second copy that never went through the other day. I wanted to look at the message headers to see what was up.

In my Thunderbird days, all I had to do was click the little plus sign next to the "simple header" -- which only shows sender, recipient and date -- to expand the header, in place, to the full email header, showing me the entire path that the email took from sender to recipient. It's a useful diagnostic tool from time to time, and that's why good email programs give you easy access to it.

But now I'm living in the dark days of Outlook, so here are the steps now:

  1. Look all around the interface for a show headers option. Don't find anything.
  2. Pull down every menu, force-clicking on the stupid short menus that Microsoft thinks is doing you a favor by clipping, so you can see all the menu items. Don't find anything.
  3. Open up "help", type in "headers", and wait for shitty, slow-ass, web-based help search to come back at ya with some results.
  4. Delight that four down on the list is a "showing email headers" help item.
  5. Wonder what is mentally wrong with the Microsoft "Help" file editors who thought it made more sense to tuck the actual "how to show them" part of the entry yet another hyperlink away, and fill the main page with endless babble about email headers. Poor Joe Average Outlook User has no idea what the fuck an email header is, and I think most people who land on this page are looking for the _how_, not the _what_.
  6. Click the damned extra hyperlink and read that you need to go to View... Options to get started.
  7. Go to View menu, to find there is no Options entry.
  8. Think to yourself how shitty Outlook is.
  9. Return to the "Help" page, and read the note about how "if you do not see an Options entry, to make sure you are reading an email message in a separate window, rather than in the preview pane".
  10. Think to yourself how this is something you rarely do, since it's simply a step that makes no sense in your day-to-day use of email -- if the message can be read in the preview pane, why double click the message to open the same shit in another window, to be closed later?
  11. Mark #10 as a key to understanding the Microsoft programmer psyche, the people responsible for making a word processor that requires gigabytes of disk space.
  12. Open the fucking email in a separate window, while watching a small piece of your soul dissolve and fade away.
  13. Go back to the View menu and then realize that now there's ANOTHER View menu, in the individual message window.
  14. Open the second View menu to discover the long-sought-after Options menu item.
  15. Select options, giddy with excitement knowing your menial little task -- previously a one mouse-click operation now riddled with complexities on the scale of the Normandy Invasion -- is almost over.
  16. Finally look at the message headers -- crammed into a short, narrow window with a scrollbar that is wholly unsatisfying and difficult to look at, especially after the process required to get there.
  17. Squint at tiny type and try to follow header lines that cannot be read all in one shot without scrolling, which is like trying to read the ticker board at the New York Stock Exchange as if it were a sentence.
  18. Discover no clues in the headers that would explain the latent delivery of the email.
  19. Write this post.

Good job, Microsoft; you suck.

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Rob Guglielmetti Profile Picture
Rob Guglielmetti

lighting simulationist, crossfitter, former drinker.


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