Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A look at Outlook 2010 Conversation Grouping


By David Gewirtz

Well, I finally took the plunge and installed the Outlook 2010 beta on a production machine. We always install early releases on our lab machines, but you don't really get a feel for how the program works until you experience it in day-to-day use.

"You will buy the Office 2010 upgrade just for this feature."

I run Outlook 2007 on my main desktop computer, but when I updated my daily-use Alienware laptop to Windows 7, I downloaded the Office 2010 beta and installed that.

Over the next few months, I'll give you my impressions of the various elements of the implementation (both good and bad), allowing for the beta nature of the software.

The very first thing that jumped out at me was the Conversation Grouping feature. We'd written about this back in July, but it didn't make an impression on me until I saw it with my own inbox.

Let me be clear: you will buy the Office 2010 upgrade just for this feature.

My inbox is insanely overcrowded, I haven't had a chance to catch up on everything that needs to be handled, and all of a sudden, conversations were intelligently grouped. Let me take you through an example by starting with Figure A.


Here's a conversation, collapsed.

Here you can see a conversation I was having with Friend-of-OutlookPower Sanjay Singh. Sanjay had written last week's article on preparing for holiday lists and was curious when it'd be out.

Click the triangle quickly and all the related mail in the current folder is shown. Figure B shows some of the messages he sent me.


Here are Sanjay's messages.

Hold the triangle for just a little longer, and all the related mail (including sent items!) is shown, as shown in Figure C.


Here's the full conversation, all in one spot.

I know Xobni does something like this, but not right in the middle of my inbox, and not as beautifully or elegantly.