MS Outlook: How do I hate thee, let me count the ways

Of all the crap Microsoft sells, Outlook has got to be among the foulest.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Mail merge to Word requires 800 steps and doesn’t offer obvious things like filtering on category. I would think mail merging is an extremely common task, so why is this extraordinarily difficult?! and don’t even get me started on the troubles with mail merge formatting in Word…
  2. Outlook is random in how it files names: first, last and sometimes last, first.
  3. It randomly decides who it remembers for autocomplete while typing in an addressee for email.
  4. The autocomplete for e-mail addresses is very persistent.  When someone gives me a new address, I’ll change it in his contact record, but autocomplete will never give me the new address… it insists on filling in the old address.  I’m sure there’s some cache that could be flushed, but seriously, that sort of thing should NOT be necessary.
  5. It strips support for about half of CSS, making my life as a designer frustrating.  Yeah, I know, nobody else knows or cares about that one.
  6. It is not clear at all what the differences/purposes are among groups, distribution lists, or categories
  7. Searching for contacts can be rather random. This inexplicably got better for me for a couple of months, but then went back to being retarted.  For example, I will search for something like “brooks” and get zero results. Then I’d search for something like “mark” and I’d get my brother, who obviously has “brooks” as his last name. (!)  This happens for about 1/3 of my contacts, making searching useful only 2/3 of the time.
  8. The only way to filter your contacts is to right click on the column header. Again, this is a pretty common task, yet it’s not even remotely intuitive, never mind accessible from any of the menus!
  9. You can’t create an event in the calendar and link it to a contact, unless you explicitly “invite” that contact to the event, which then sends an e-mail to them, etc.  For example, I often want to schedule a phone call to a client, but you can’t do this.  Along with this, it would be very helpful to see a full history for each contact (including calls, meetings, emails…) OK, OK, so Outlook isn’t a CRM solution.  I know; it’s barely an e-mail solution!
  10. The e-mail basically can’t be used with the preview pane open.  It eventually crashes in this mode.

OK, so I’ll limit the list to just 10.  But seriously, isn’t this supposed to be rather mature software by now?  So why do I use Outook, if I hate it so much?  So far I haven’t found a better solution.  Why is decent (and accessible) CRM so hard to come by?  I used Goldmine for years, and had a love/hate relationship with that.  It does a good job with a lot of the CRM-specific tasks such as complete contact history, but it didn’t handle e-mail so well.  Also, it provided no (official) way to do data backup or migration.

But the final straw reason why I left Goldmine for Outlook was that it’s the only application that will integrate with the iPhone.  Well for Windows, anyway.  Maybe I really should switch to a Mac.  Yeah, Outlook’s bad enough to nearly make that major of a switch worthwhile.  Guess that also says something for how great the iPhone is too!

2 Responses to “MS Outlook: How do I hate thee, let me count the ways”

  1. Phil Says:

    No kidding, I know that’s an incomplete list, but there could be a top 1000 reasons to hate MS Outlook.

    My favourite (read: the one that infuriates me the most) feature is the auto-correct feature of Word/Outlook. I’m not an idiot, when I type something it’s because I meant to type it. If I didn’t mean to type it, I’ll erase it. They probably meant it as a time-saver, but in the end it turned out (at least for me) to be a HUGE time waster.


  2. Ken Says:

    Hey, well I DID make the switch to Mac a few months ago. Even though the built-in tools for contact and e-mail management are pretty basic, they work marvelously well! Searching for people or e-mail provides instant and brilliant results. Mail merge is practically automatic. It’s still not CRM, but neither was Outlook. Couldn’t be happier!

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