Saturday, May 1, 2004

My seven favorite myths about Outlook


By Diane Poremsky

Anything that has wide use or notoriety eventually develops a degree of mythos attached to it. Myths, urban legends, and rumors often abound. Given that Outlook is one of the most widely used computer applications worldwide, there's no shortage of myths surrounding the product and its behavior. In this article, I'll outline seven of my favorite myths.

1. Outlook is the reason we have so many email viruses

At one time, a long, long time ago, this statement was somewhat true as Outlook was a favorite target of many virus writers. Can you blame the virus writers? Outlook is the most commonly used email client and any exploit or virus that was targeted to the programmability of Outlook had millions of users to spread it.

However, it's no longer true and hasn't been since the release of the email security patch dated June 2000. In fact, updated versions of Outlook are as safe as or safer than any email client available. Because the current crop of viruses are spread many different ways and don't need Outlook's (or Outlook Express's) address book, email viruses would not disappear if everyone switched to other email programs.

2. Outlook is the "full version" of the free Outlook Express

Not in a million years. Outlook was developed by the Office program group as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) and email program and positioned as the Exchange client to replace Schedule+ and the original Exchange client.

Outlook Express was developed by the Internet Explorer group to provide simple mail and news handling for Windows users. The feature sets in each program are targeted to the expected the user base: Outlook is a business email client while Outlook Express is for home users.

As a result, Outlook does some things better than Outlook Express, like calendaring, contacts, mail merge, and tasks; while Outlook Express has inline image display and newsgroups and is less complicated to use.

See and for more information on the differences between Outlook and Outlook Express.

3. Outlook's HTML is bloated, especially if you use Word as the editor

This is somewhat true, but with the right configuration settings you can remove much of the HTML used for round-tripping documents and send cleaner, smaller HTML messages.

Open the Tools, Options dialog from either Word or an open message form, if you are using Word as the editor. At the bottom of the General tab is an email options button and its General tab lets you choose the HTML filtering level for your email.