Friday, June 1, 2007

Outlook Mobile Service: a low-bandwidth connection to your mobile life


By Bill Mann

We have a problem. Ok, maybe not you personally, but we, the users of Outlook, collectively have a problem. That problem is how to maintain access to our Outlook data when we're mobile. Outlook Mobile Service (OMS) is one possible solution to that problem. It's an inexpensive, low-bandwidth way to get access to crucial Outlook data on virtually any mobile phone that can send and receive text (SMS) messages.

OMS is a free Outlook 2007 add-in that communicates with your wireless service provider to move text and multimedia messages between your mobile phone and the copy of Outlook 2007 on your desktop. This service has a lot of phone-related capabilities wrapped together, things like creating text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) message in Outlook and sending them to phones, sending messages to mobiles and regular email clients simultaneously, and a new mobile address book.

But for my money, where OMS will be most useful to most people is its ability to forward reminders, calendar summaries, and selected email messages to any mobile that supports text messaging. With OMS, you don't need a high-end phone with a high-price, high-speed data connection to get crucial Outlook data while on the move. This is the aspect of OMS that I'll be talking about in the rest of this article.

Note: For information on the complete capabilities of Outlook Mobile Service, search for OMS in the Outlook 2007 help system.

I recommend you configure OMS to use single text (SMS) messages to forward any notifications of messages from your most important correspondents, along with any reminders and a copy of your next day's schedule. We'll see how to do so shortly.

Using this approach, you will get notified of the important stuff when it happens, without getting a vast number of text messages sent to your phone every month, which can quickly become expensive if you exceed the allowances of your mobile service plan.

Setting up to use Outlook Mobile Service

To get started with Outlook Mobile Service, go to the Outlook Mobile Service Hosting Providers page listed at the end of this article. Select your country and your mobile service provider on this page to see if they support OMS.

If so, the site will walk you through the steps to get a hosting provider account and install OMS. While OMS doesn't require a high-end phone and an expensive data plan, you do need to confirm certain things before you can use OMS. Specifically: