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Friday, April 1, 2011

Microsoft Outlook 2010 Enhancements

I have been a power Outlook for as long as I can remember and I have used it to schedule every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, as much as I hate the way it performs sometimes, I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to abandon it and find another desktop solution.

The biggest competition to the Outlook application that I have seen so far would have to be Thunderbird, but unfortunately it doesn’t have all of the features that Outlook has out of the box right now. With the Office 2010 suite is soon to hit shelves, I found a great post on Web Worker Daily that outlined some of Outlook 2010’s enhancements. Here’s an excerpt from the article…

If you are interested, there are some additional screenshots on Web Worker Daily’s website…

Backstage View.

Personally, I think the addition of the Backstage View in Office 2010 applications sets a new level of application accessibility and usability, especially in Outlook 2010. Clicking on the Office button gives you access to Outlook settings and account information, including account settings, automatic replies to email, mailbox cleanup, and rules.

Bringing all this information into one interface should be a boon to productivity, since users will no longer have to hunt around for management features in various Outlook menus.

Schedule View.

Although there were different “views” of Outlook data in previous releases, the implementation meant that they weren’t that useful. However, Outlook 2010 includes better control over views, and I recommend anybody test driving it to spend some time using them.

A case in point is the new Schedule view, which provides better insight into your daily schedule, as recorded in your Outlook calendar. Moreover, as with the other views, you have the option to set different time scales to provide a granular look as to what is going in your day. The new Time Scale feature enables you to scale your schedule view from 5-minute to 60-minute increments.

Task Notes.

Office 2010 includes OneNote 2010 integration with the main Office applications, including Outlook. From the Outlook Tasks List, click “Task Notes” and the “Select Location in OneNote” dialog box appears. From this dialog box, you have the option of selecting a section or page for your task notes. Even if you are currently a big OneNote user, the introduction of Task Notes in Outlook 2010 may cause you to reconsider your existing OneNote organizational schema.

I see the integration of OneNote with Outlook and other Office 2010 applications as one of the highlights in this upcoming Office release.

Publish Online.

The new Publish Online feature gives the promise of a geographically-dispersed project team being able to publish their personal and team calendar data online, and make it accessible to the team. With Publish Online, you can publish your Outlook calendar to Office Online, or a WebDAV server. I like the options here because it won’t tie you to an expensive online collaboration solution.

Customize Common Tasks.

There have been few (if any) changes to how you perform common Outlook tasks in quite some time. With the launch of Outlook 2010, you have the option to customize how you perform common tasks like sending meeting invites to your team, sending emails to your whole team, and forwarding emails. You also have the option to create your own “quick steps” from scratch. These options are available from “Quick Steps” in the Home ribbon or from the “Quick Steps” dialog box. The best part is that these options are dialog box-driven, with no knowledge of macros required.

Outlook 2010 and Your Productivity

While I lamented in a previous post that Outlook 2010 needs to be more social, the productivity enhancements present in Outlook 2010 offer a lot for everyone from novice to power users. My history as a writer and computer book technical reviewer on Office topics goes back to Office 2000; the Office 2010 Technical Preview — especially Outlook 2010 — show a lot more promise at this stage than previous releases, so I’m looking forward to checking out the final version.

What productivity features are you looking for in Outlook 2010?

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