Thursday, May 1, 2003

Now you see it, now you don’t


By Diane Poremsky

One of the news items in last week's OutlookPower NewsCenter section included the following blurb, which caught my eye:

"Bug in Outlook 2003 beta: reports that a bug lives in the latest beta version of Microsoft Outlook 2003, despite two fixes. The Inbox bug systematically deletes email messages throughout networked systems that still have Outlook 2002 installed. Deletion starts when Outlook 2003 receives new emails and doesn't stop until Outlook 2003 is closed."

I've never had a problem with missing mail. I've been using Outlook 2003 beta since its release last fall and often opened my Exchange mailbox with both the beta versions and Outlook 2002. I checked with Outlook MVPs and members of the beta team. Everyone who uses an Exchange server said they used multiple versions at once, but no one lost their mail. One person said he wished his mail would disappear, but alas, no such luck.

I'm sure many readers are familiar with the most common cause of missing mail. We dismissed it as a cause, since the full article mentions they were in contact with Microsoft and tried two different workarounds for the problem, both of which failed. We assumed the first thing Microsoft would have asked them to check was the most common cause of disappearing email.

Lesson #1: Never assume. One of the softies on the development team asked around and discovered our assumptions were wrong.

Lesson #2: It might be a good idea to wait until a bug is fixed or at least until you know the cause before writing a story about it.

If you haven't already guessed, the "bug" isn't a bug, and it's the most common cause of missing messages--setting up an Exchange profile on a second computer and using a PST as the default delivery location instead of the mailbox. The contents of the mailbox, including Calendar and Contacts, are sucked down to the PST and removed from the Exchange mailbox, like magic.

Visitors to the Outlook newsgroups on the Microsoft news server (at news:// ask about missing mail often, and it's usually caused by setting up an Exchange profile on a second computer and using a PST. Another less common cause is enabling autoarchiving and forgetting about it.

Speaking of the Microsoft newsgroups, almost every Microsoft product or technology has a newsgroup on the msnews server. If you are unable to use a newsreader, Microsoft also provides a Web interface to the newsgroups at

Do you have an idea for an article or a tip you'd like to share? Write me at, and I'll try to use it in a future column.

Diane Poremsky is the president of CDOLive LLC and a Microsoft Outlook MVP. She's coauthor of Word 2002: The Complete Reference (Osborne, 2001) and Beginning Visual Basic 6 Application Development (for Wrox Press). For questions or suggestions for future columns, write her at