By Diane Poremsky
After years of requests from Outlook users for newsgroup support in Outlook (that's Outlook, not Outlook Express) and years of Microsoft ignoring the requests, three companies recently took matters into their own hands and released NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol) add-ins for Outlook.
Mapilab's NNTP for Outlook and Shoreline Software's NewsHound are NNTP transports and can pull Usenet posts into Outlook and post messages or replies back to the server. As MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface) transports, they require only that you have Outlook installed and both work with Outlook 2000 in corporate/workgroup mode, as well as Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003.
NewsLook is a COM (Component Object Model) add-in and requires CDO (Collaboration Data Objects) and the .NET Framework runtime. Like the NNTP transport, you use it to pull posts from a news server and post messages or replies. At this time, only Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003 are supported.
A fourth add-in, NewsGator, is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader with the capability to pull news posts into Outlook. While there is a posting plug-in available, NewsGator is best suited for groups you read but rarely post or reply to. The plug-in works, but if you are planning to post regularly, try NewsLook instead.
Regardless of the add-in you choose, keep in mind that the *.PST format used by Outlook97/2002 is limited in size and you should not allow it to get over approximately 1.8 GB. If you're pulling a lot of busy newsgroups (or binary groups) into Outlook, you can hit the absolute limit of 2GB in no time unless you keep older messages deleted. Outlook 2003 supports both the old format and a new Unicode *.PST format with a practical limit of 20 GB and creates a Unicode PST by default, so the file size is less of an issue.
Many of the Outlook MVPs are busy testing these add-ins and are pleased with the results so far. At this point in time, NewsLook has the edge in stability, ease of use, and features. If you decide to try them, write to me at email@example.com and let me know what you think.