Monday, December 1, 2003

Customizing Outlook Today

THIS WEEK'S POWERTIP

By Diane Poremsky

This week, we look at two recent problems affecting users of older versions of Outlook: the inability to customize Outlook Today and the loss of the MSNBC Personal Update add-in which replaced Outlook Today with local news, weather and stock quotes.

After installing the Cumulative Patch for Internet Explorer critical update for security bulletin MS03-015, released in April 2003 (at http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=813489), users are unable to customize Outlook Today. This problem is addressed in the Microsoft knowledge base article 820575 (at http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=820575).

The official solution involves editing the registry to disable the security patch, editing the Outlook today page, and then re-editing the registry again to enable the patch. Since you're already editing the registry, an alternative exists--edit the registry keys for Outlook Today settings, which are detailed at http://www.outlook-tips.net/howto/oltoday.htm.

Goodbye MSNBC Personal Update

Since the release of Outlook 2000 some four years ago, a customized Outlook Today page was made available by MSNBC which allowed users to view their tasks and calendar entries along with news headlines, weather, and stock quotes. Unfortunately for many users, MSNBC decided to end the service earlier this month, leaving many users without their news and weather.

Like the previous problem with Outlook Today, this isn't as bad as it sounds. The MSNBC Personal Update page is easily customized using FrontPage, which just happens to include components for news, weather, and stock quotes. There are a number of free services available that you can use to pull news and weather into the page to replace the MSNBC feeds.

If you don't have FrontPage or aren't into editing your own Outlook Today page, I have a version available for download on http://www.outlook-tips.net/howto/msnbc_ot.htm. The replacement page uses JavaScript to get news feeds from http://www.EasyByte.com and weather from http://www.weatherroom.com. It's a work in progress and is missing stock quotes as of this writing. It works with all versions of Outlook, including Outlook 2003 and doesn't require installation beyond setting a folder home page pointing the HTML file.

Do you have a customized Outlook Today page you'd like to share with our readers? Email me at outlook@cdolive.com.