The New Outlook for Mac?

Or should we just wait for Google Inbox?

November 3, 2014

This morning I installed Microsoft’s new Outlook for Mac. My school is an Office 365 campus, so downloading the application was free. I had stopped using Outlook for Mac 2011 because, well, because it was atrocious. Constant freezing. The spinning beachball of death. Slow e-mail updating. Laggy text editing. You name something bad in an e-mail program and Outlook for Mac 2011. 

I wrote about my terrible Outlook for Mac 2011 experience in 2011, and twice in 2014. How could Microsoft inflict such a terrible product on its customers? Was Outlook for Mac 2011 a sin of commission (trying to push people to Windows), or omission (software is hard and Microsoft was busy?).  Who knows.

Will the new Outlook for Mac bring me back into the Microsoft e-mail and calendar fold? There seem to be many advantages to using a native Microsoft product if your campus is running Office 365. Calendaring, particularly group and recurring meeting functions, never worked quite right in Apple Calendar.  It has always been a challenge to figure out people’s free busy in the Apple product.  

BusyCal, which I tested for a month, is a nice application - but it costs $49.99. (Although they give 20% off for higher ed).  Figuring out free / busy in BusyCal seemed to work better than Apple Calendar, but it still could be a challenge.

Many Mac people I know on campus (and most people I know on my campus are Mac people), have altogether given up on a client application for e-mail and calendaring. They use the Web interface for Office 365, as e-mail and calendar through the browser is almost as good as a full client app.   Many folks just forward their e-mail to Gmail, although I like to separate my work e-mail experience from the look and feel of my personal e-mails. You?

So far the new Outlook for Mac seems to be behaving well.  I’ve only been testing for a day, but I’m not seeing the spinning wheel of death that characterized the Outlook 2011 experience. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What e-mail / calendar system does your campus use?  Have you also moved to a cloud based system like Office 365 or Google Apps for Education? Is everyone on your campus on the same e-mail / calendaring platform, or do different schools or divisions have their own systems?   Can all the calendar systems on your campus talk to each other?  

For Office 365 campuses, how much are you using the Office Online for collaboration and document sharing, and how does it compare with Google Docs?

Can you ever envision us moving past the traditional e-mail and calendaring systems? Have you been thinking about Google’s new Inbox platform that received a positive initial review in the the NYTimes.

Should I go back to Outlook for Mac? Will you? 

Or will programs like Outlook for Mac become obsolete as applications like Google Inbox begin to emerge?


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