Sunday, October 1, 2006

Microsoft Office Outlook vs. free email choices


By David Gewirtz

Although most of us are pretty familiar with Microsoft Office Outlook and Outlook Express, there are still some people out there who are confused by the similar names. With the upcoming release of Office 2007 and Windows Mail, there's bound to be even more confusion. In this article, we'll help you get a handle on what's what.

First, let's do a shout-out to the reader who got us working on this topic. We recently got this email from Mrs. JMarcella Garcia, who initially asked:

I have been receiving your email regarding Outlook, it is very interesting. I have sent several emails asking if you or your business only deals with Outlook and if so I need to find someone (somewhere) who actually deals with Outlook Express.
Granted I am not a computer 'guru' like you and your employees however, it would be nice to get a response back from someone....I realize I am one of a million of your customers, however, can someone still assist me without being forgotten or ignored....

Well, here's your reply.

Just so you know, I personally get 7-10,000 emails a day. Many of those are junk and need to be filtered by automated systems. If your email looked like a junk mail, it wouldn't make it to anyone. Even after filtering, I have to go through more than a thousand messages to me, personally. Most everyone else here has a similar mail load. So, we do try our best to answer questions, but it's not always possible.

We cover Outlook and Outlook Express, although we cover the Express product far less because, frankly, there's far less to the product. Remember, though, we're editors and not tech support people. We will try to answer questions that we deem are editorially valid and appropriate to our current editorial calendar. But your first support call should always be to Microsoft.

Later correspondence with Mrs. Garcia made it clear she didn't understand which product did what. The various email programs are beginning to confuse people. So let's see if I can give you an easy way to think about them.

First, when we refer to Outlook, we're actually talking about Microsoft Office Outlook, the very big program that comes with Microsoft Office (although it can also be bought separately). The current version of Outlook is Outlook 2003. Outlook 2007 is due out whenever the rest of the Office 2007 products ship.

Free alternatives

Outlook Express is the free email program that comes with Microsoft Windows. When you buy Windows, Outlook Express is already installed. It costs nothing more than whatever your Windows license cost, and if you bought a PC with Windows already installed, you got Outlook Express.