Wanting to use “dead” Office and why we’re not

Why is backward compatibility so important? Because humans hate change. Me too. I’m swearing left and right at Gmail and Google Calendar. I’ve spent the past decade on Microsoft Outlook with Exchange so of course I’m gonna be mad about the change. But, notice that I +am+ changing even though I’m one of Microsoft’s fans.

I miss so many little things I’ve learned over the past decade that have just become second nature. From clicking Alt-K to parse a name and change it to an email. To being able to drag and drop things between folders. To being able to sync my calendar onto my Cingular 2125 phone.

Our corporate Gmail is supposed to work with Outlook but there’s a problem and I haven’t figured it out yet. So I’m stuck on the Web page until I figure out why the POP system isn’t working with Outlook 2003.

But it’s the small things that are frustrating. I’ve sent so much email that I can practically send email with my eyes closed. But using Gmail is frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard even finding the “reply” link.

Microsoft should be scared, though, because I think more and more startups and small companies are gonna go the Gmail route. Why? Cause it’s easier to get started. No server needed. Just sign up for Gmail. Outsource your email to Google. And Microsoft does NOT understand how to market on the Web.

Microsoft has domain email too, but, quick, go to MSN Search and do a search for “email for your domain.” (The result is even worse for Microsoft if you do that search on Google — although Office Live is advertising on Google, but not on MSN, ironically enough). Do you find anything about Microsoft’s hosted email? No. Why? Because Microsoft’s Web site for Office Live (which is where small businesses can get email hosted)Β is poorly designed for search engines. Its title tag has NOTHING about email. So, how, again, will it get listed on search engines for business or corporate email solutions? It won’t.

Microsoft’s marketers should be forced to study how search engines work. Google’s marketers understand this deeply. Which is why Podtech is using Gmail and not one of Microsoft’s solutions.

Here’s Microsoft’s other competitors for email for your domain: Windows Live Custom Domains. Notice how much better this site is designed for the Web? Office Live should be forced to study with these folks for a while. Or, Microsoft’s Exchange Hosted Services. But, notice that nothing in the title tag there says anything about email. I had to look all over for this site on both Google and MSN search and had a tough time finding it (and I knew it was there, cause the team that did this gave me a demo).

Search engine optimization starts with really thinking through what people are gonna search for and making title tags that match that. A title tag is what appears at the top of your browser. It is one of the most important things that affect where you’ll be in search engine results.

If people can’t find your company for what they search for, do you really exist? And, for everyone who’ll click on the ads on the right, there are quite a few who won’t. Particularly geeky influencers, like Matt Cutts pointed out yesterday.

Here, one more time, based ONLY on these Web pages, which would you rather use? Gmail or Exchange?

To me Gmail’s page is nicer, more Web friendly, and simpler. Did Microsoft give me enough ammunition to go into my boss tomorrow and say “we should dump Gmail!”

No. And that’s for someone who could even find this page in the first place.

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68 thoughts on “Wanting to use “dead” Office and why we’re not

  1. Our marketing is one of the greatest areas of frustration for me. We make so many great products and solutions but as you point out the way we go about exposing and propmoting them you would never know it and hence you can have competative advertising that is very misleading (albeit cute and well done) like the Mac commercials, and people just buy it. 😦

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  2. Our marketing is one of the greatest areas of frustration for me. We make so many great products and solutions but as you point out the way we go about exposing and propmoting them you would never know it and hence you can have competative advertising that is very misleading (albeit cute and well done) like the Mac commercials, and people just buy it. 😦

    Like

  3. Hi Robert

    I’ve been using Gmail for a while now and I came from Outlook so I feel your pain πŸ˜‰

    However, I just wanted to let you know that in the settings in Gmail you can activate keyboard shortcuts. Then you wont have to look for the reply link – just press “r” on your keyboard and voila!

    Also I made the pop work with windows mobile on my phone so it suprises me that it wont work for you on Outlook 2003.

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  4. Hi Robert

    I’ve been using Gmail for a while now and I came from Outlook so I feel your pain πŸ˜‰

    However, I just wanted to let you know that in the settings in Gmail you can activate keyboard shortcuts. Then you wont have to look for the reply link – just press “r” on your keyboard and voila!

    Also I made the pop work with windows mobile on my phone so it suprises me that it wont work for you on Outlook 2003.

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  5. Don’t spend lots of time looking for the “reply” link… go to the options, turn on the keyboard shortcuts. Then, when looking at a message, just press “r” and bam, you’re replying…

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  6. Don’t spend lots of time looking for the “reply” link… go to the options, turn on the keyboard shortcuts. Then, when looking at a message, just press “r” and bam, you’re replying…

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  7. Kasper and Aaron, thanks, that rocks! Ahh, a decade ahead of learning little things like this.

    I wonder who’ll come after Google. I’m sure my son will, one day, tell me how lame Google is and tell me about something soooper doooper. Heheh.

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  8. Kasper and Aaron, thanks, that rocks! Ahh, a decade ahead of learning little things like this.

    I wonder who’ll come after Google. I’m sure my son will, one day, tell me how lame Google is and tell me about something soooper doooper. Heheh.

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  9. yeah, that last link by Vinayak should sort you it; it worked for me months ago.

    And as for backward compatibility: here MS should take a page from Apple and the OS9 and OSX switch. It would really help windows, and get rid of some of the crud.

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  10. yeah, that last link by Vinayak should sort you it; it worked for me months ago.

    And as for backward compatibility: here MS should take a page from Apple and the OS9 and OSX switch. It would really help windows, and get rid of some of the crud.

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  11. Michiel, I just double checked everything on that page. The problem is I’m using Gmail’s hosted service which uses Podtech’s URL. Something is horked. I’ll figure it out tomorrow with the geeks at work.

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  12. Robert,
    I’ve got hosted gmail working across our network using Outlook. Give me an email at derek at woodlandministries dot com and I’ll be glad to help you out.

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  13. Michiel, I just double checked everything on that page. The problem is I’m using Gmail’s hosted service which uses Podtech’s URL. Something is horked. I’ll figure it out tomorrow with the geeks at work.

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  14. Robert,
    I’ve got hosted gmail working across our network using Outlook. Give me an email at derek at woodlandministries dot com and I’ll be glad to help you out.

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  15. Hi, Robert: I also made the switch from Outlook to Gmail a few months ago when I left Microsoft for Google. Let me echo everyone’s “turn on keyboard shortcuts!” sentiment. ‘r’ is key, as are the ‘j’ and ‘k’ keys for navigating. Also any of Gmail’s quirks are overshadowed by the awesomeness of having search there all the time. Lookout & WDS are great, but Gmail’s integration is so much tighter and faster.

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  16. Hi, Robert: I also made the switch from Outlook to Gmail a few months ago when I left Microsoft for Google. Let me echo everyone’s “turn on keyboard shortcuts!” sentiment. ‘r’ is key, as are the ‘j’ and ‘k’ keys for navigating. Also any of Gmail’s quirks are overshadowed by the awesomeness of having search there all the time. Lookout & WDS are great, but Gmail’s integration is so much tighter and faster.

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  17. Dunno about hosted, but when we started up I just picked up a copy of Small Business Server, set it up on a spare machine in a couple of hours and had exchange, outlook, web access and phone synchronization working straight away.

    No hassles, no muss, no fuss.

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  18. Dunno about hosted, but when we started up I just picked up a copy of Small Business Server, set it up on a spare machine in a couple of hours and had exchange, outlook, web access and phone synchronization working straight away.

    No hassles, no muss, no fuss.

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  19. Steve: you’re a geek. One problem, we don’t have a spare machine. So, instead of buying one, we used Gmail instead. It actually is pretty nice, although you’ll swear at it for the first few days.

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  20. Steve: you’re a geek. One problem, we don’t have a spare machine. So, instead of buying one, we used Gmail instead. It actually is pretty nice, although you’ll swear at it for the first few days.

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  21. Robert: but wait until you try connecting a windows mobile device to a pop service… It, ahem, is ever so slightly sucky. Not to mention that your contacts and calendar won’t sync because the services don’t exist.

    The exchange/outlook/windows mobile interaction/constant sync is very cool and life sucks when it doesn’t exist (well, for me anyhow).

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  22. Robert: but wait until you try connecting a windows mobile device to a pop service… It, ahem, is ever so slightly sucky. Not to mention that your contacts and calendar won’t sync because the services don’t exist.

    The exchange/outlook/windows mobile interaction/constant sync is very cool and life sucks when it doesn’t exist (well, for me anyhow).

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  23. Steve: agreed! I miss my phone integration.

    Gmail has other ways to deal with mobile. I’m trying those out. (SMS and email).

    If there’s a reason we switch to Exchange, this will be a major one.

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  24. Steve: agreed! I miss my phone integration.

    Gmail has other ways to deal with mobile. I’m trying those out. (SMS and email).

    If there’s a reason we switch to Exchange, this will be a major one.

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  25. It could be worse. It could be much, much worse.

    At work I have to use Lotus Notes. If I’d remembered this before signing I’d have asked for more money to compensate for the stress…

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  26. It could be worse. It could be much, much worse.

    At work I have to use Lotus Notes. If I’d remembered this before signing I’d have asked for more money to compensate for the stress…

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  27. Hey Scoble, normally I find your blog to be a great source of insight and I read it every day. However, this entry comes off sounding like Microsoft-sponsored ad-speak. I’ve been using Outlook since about 1997 or so, pretty much everyday for the last seven years, and on the days when I wasn’t using it, I was using OWA. I’ve been through many versions of Outlook (from 97/98 through 2003) and several versions of Exchange (through 2003).

    I’ve been using Gmail since April of 2004, weeks after its public release. The “pains” you’re experiencing are invented. They are manufactured. Much like any new program, you have to learn the ropes, and with Gmail, they are usually MUCH more obvious than with Outlook. Seriously, WTF is Ctrl+K? I use it all the time, but that’s just learned behavior. It’s not intuitive, it’s just something you have taught yourself. My fingers don’t gravitate towards those keys in Gmail because Gmail does it better – it suggests based on your contacts and then you just press enter: on pretty much any browser. Gmail’s search and archive features outdo any and every attempt Outlook has made at organization. I have tons of labels, but ultimately, my inbox is a mess. I find messages INSTANTLY by searching. That’s the benefit of Gmail.

    While Outlook has many great features, Gmail is a far far more useful program for me, and I’d bet for most people. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that Gmail is *free* and Outlook costs you about 250 bucks because you’re usually in for Office Basic.

    You can “swear left and right,” at Gmail, but it’s not Google’s fault that you can’t figure out how to stop using your old shortcuts.

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  28. Hey Scoble, normally I find your blog to be a great source of insight and I read it every day. However, this entry comes off sounding like Microsoft-sponsored ad-speak. I’ve been using Outlook since about 1997 or so, pretty much everyday for the last seven years, and on the days when I wasn’t using it, I was using OWA. I’ve been through many versions of Outlook (from 97/98 through 2003) and several versions of Exchange (through 2003).

    I’ve been using Gmail since April of 2004, weeks after its public release. The “pains” you’re experiencing are invented. They are manufactured. Much like any new program, you have to learn the ropes, and with Gmail, they are usually MUCH more obvious than with Outlook. Seriously, WTF is Ctrl+K? I use it all the time, but that’s just learned behavior. It’s not intuitive, it’s just something you have taught yourself. My fingers don’t gravitate towards those keys in Gmail because Gmail does it better – it suggests based on your contacts and then you just press enter: on pretty much any browser. Gmail’s search and archive features outdo any and every attempt Outlook has made at organization. I have tons of labels, but ultimately, my inbox is a mess. I find messages INSTANTLY by searching. That’s the benefit of Gmail.

    While Outlook has many great features, Gmail is a far far more useful program for me, and I’d bet for most people. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that Gmail is *free* and Outlook costs you about 250 bucks because you’re usually in for Office Basic.

    You can “swear left and right,” at Gmail, but it’s not Google’s fault that you can’t figure out how to stop using your old shortcuts.

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  29. Also, one other thing: we use Exchange exclusively at work, and I have a Mac at home. It doesn’t help that I am delivered a notably subpar experience via OWA, and that includes the Exchange 2003 version, and from what I hear, it will include Exchange 2007 as well! We need to wait TWO more versions before a Mac or Linux user can expect something that is even a fraction of what Gmail currently offers via remote access. So really, Exchange only competes over POP and IMAP.

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  30. Also, one other thing: we use Exchange exclusively at work, and I have a Mac at home. It doesn’t help that I am delivered a notably subpar experience via OWA, and that includes the Exchange 2003 version, and from what I hear, it will include Exchange 2007 as well! We need to wait TWO more versions before a Mac or Linux user can expect something that is even a fraction of what Gmail currently offers via remote access. So really, Exchange only competes over POP and IMAP.

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  31. ok, maybe you can help me (my dad, that is) out – in outlook 2003 i can’t find a place to add a second outgoing smtp mail server … he’s got one at office, but home isp provider insists on using theirs …

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  32. ok, maybe you can help me (my dad, that is) out – in outlook 2003 i can’t find a place to add a second outgoing smtp mail server … he’s got one at office, but home isp provider insists on using theirs …

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  33. One of the things that podtech will get when they move out of the USVP offices and into crappy class 3 office space is podtech’s very own exchange server!

    When podtech starts hiring finance, legal and hr folks [instead of using usvp finance, legal and hr folks], you’ll get your outlook and exchange back!

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  34. One of the things that podtech will get when they move out of the USVP offices and into crappy class 3 office space is podtech’s very own exchange server!

    When podtech starts hiring finance, legal and hr folks [instead of using usvp finance, legal and hr folks], you’ll get your outlook and exchange back!

    Like

  35. My primary email is Thunderbird on my Powerbook, but I use Gmail on my PC. Thunderbird syncs via POP to get the Gmail mail so that I can have it everywhere, and I have no problem at all.

    And Gmail is very good at automatically figuring out email addresses.

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  36. My primary email is Thunderbird on my Powerbook, but I use Gmail on my PC. Thunderbird syncs via POP to get the Gmail mail so that I can have it everywhere, and I have no problem at all.

    And Gmail is very good at automatically figuring out email addresses.

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  37. Adam, you just learned a lot about human behavior. People don’t like to change. My mom’s sister still loves Wordperfect. I can’t stand it. Why? Cause she spent years learning its idiosyncracies and Word just doesn’t make sense to her.

    Getting arrogant about how you “got it” won’t make people change faster, by the way. That never worked for Apple.

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  38. Adam, you just learned a lot about human behavior. People don’t like to change. My mom’s sister still loves Wordperfect. I can’t stand it. Why? Cause she spent years learning its idiosyncracies and Word just doesn’t make sense to her.

    Getting arrogant about how you “got it” won’t make people change faster, by the way. That never worked for Apple.

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  39. I would have thought SBS was a no-brainer. It’s designed to be installed and run by non-geeks; everything from creating users to scheduling backups is wizard-driven. You get Exchange 2003 & Outlook 2003. Shared calendars. Meeting invitations. Tasks. Outlook Web Access, for cryin’ out loud. A Sharepoint intranet portal. VPN. End-user recovery of previous versions of documents. Shared fax. Remote Web Workplace, so anyone has secure remote access to any desktop or server console using nothing more than a web browser. “Push” email to your Smartphone. The ability to look up contacts in your corporate global address list from your phone.

    And Outlook doesn’t have ads running down the right-hand side of the window.

    SBS is $600. You just left Microsoft and I have to sell you SBS? πŸ™‚

    Ok, $600 plus $100 per user. Let’s say you have 20 people. You go out and drop $2,000 on a shiny new server, $2,000 for user CALs, $600 for SBS: $4,600 / 20 = $230 per person.

    You guys probably spend more money on coffee in a year.

    It pains me to read about your company running on Gmail, because it reminds me of my Dot Bomb (1.0) experience. The pointy-haired managers in that company decided to roll out Lotus Notes. It was unreliable and everyone hated it. It was annoying, but apparently not annoying enough to scrap it. (Email systems have inertia: once they get entrenched, it can be difficult to switch.) It was an albatross around everyone’s neck until the day the company went under.

    When a startup company consistently makes offbeat and wacky technology choices, it’s what we call a Warning Sign. If you all use AMD laptops running Debian, your VoIP PBX runs Windows 98, and your email is Lotus Notes, then you should listen for a faint scraping sound. That would be Death sharpening his scythe….

    When I first used Gmail a little over two years ago, I also had that, “Whaaaa…? Where’s all the features?” reaction. In particular I was aghast that I couldn’t make anything bold or italic. How can you roll out an email service that doesn’t support bold text, even in beta?

    They’ve since fixed that. Earlier this year, though, I read that Marissa Mayer prefers pine to Gmail. Apparently Gmail has too many features for some Google executives. πŸ™‚ (Probably also explains the “remove formatting” and “plain text” buttons…) Bah, who needs HTML formatting, tables, or embedded pictures anyway. All that crap just slows down the process of parsing your message to figure out what ads to send you. πŸ™‚

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  40. I would have thought SBS was a no-brainer. It’s designed to be installed and run by non-geeks; everything from creating users to scheduling backups is wizard-driven. You get Exchange 2003 & Outlook 2003. Shared calendars. Meeting invitations. Tasks. Outlook Web Access, for cryin’ out loud. A Sharepoint intranet portal. VPN. End-user recovery of previous versions of documents. Shared fax. Remote Web Workplace, so anyone has secure remote access to any desktop or server console using nothing more than a web browser. “Push” email to your Smartphone. The ability to look up contacts in your corporate global address list from your phone.

    And Outlook doesn’t have ads running down the right-hand side of the window.

    SBS is $600. You just left Microsoft and I have to sell you SBS? πŸ™‚

    Ok, $600 plus $100 per user. Let’s say you have 20 people. You go out and drop $2,000 on a shiny new server, $2,000 for user CALs, $600 for SBS: $4,600 / 20 = $230 per person.

    You guys probably spend more money on coffee in a year.

    It pains me to read about your company running on Gmail, because it reminds me of my Dot Bomb (1.0) experience. The pointy-haired managers in that company decided to roll out Lotus Notes. It was unreliable and everyone hated it. It was annoying, but apparently not annoying enough to scrap it. (Email systems have inertia: once they get entrenched, it can be difficult to switch.) It was an albatross around everyone’s neck until the day the company went under.

    When a startup company consistently makes offbeat and wacky technology choices, it’s what we call a Warning Sign. If you all use AMD laptops running Debian, your VoIP PBX runs Windows 98, and your email is Lotus Notes, then you should listen for a faint scraping sound. That would be Death sharpening his scythe….

    When I first used Gmail a little over two years ago, I also had that, “Whaaaa…? Where’s all the features?” reaction. In particular I was aghast that I couldn’t make anything bold or italic. How can you roll out an email service that doesn’t support bold text, even in beta?

    They’ve since fixed that. Earlier this year, though, I read that Marissa Mayer prefers pine to Gmail. Apparently Gmail has too many features for some Google executives. πŸ™‚ (Probably also explains the “remove formatting” and “plain text” buttons…) Bah, who needs HTML formatting, tables, or embedded pictures anyway. All that crap just slows down the process of parsing your message to figure out what ads to send you. πŸ™‚

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  41. Karim: you forget. At a startup we don’t have corporate cards. So, ordering shit is a pain in the ass. What’s easier? Signing up for some free service (that everyone’s using anyway — you should see the popularity of Gmail in audiences I’ve spoken to) is a lot easier than paying a few hundred bucks, and installing a server.

    Now, I know the advantages. But, are they enough to get us to go that route? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?

    But, with each passing day I get more used to Gmail and less likely to install SBS or Exchange.

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  42. Karim: you forget. At a startup we don’t have corporate cards. So, ordering shit is a pain in the ass. What’s easier? Signing up for some free service (that everyone’s using anyway — you should see the popularity of Gmail in audiences I’ve spoken to) is a lot easier than paying a few hundred bucks, and installing a server.

    Now, I know the advantages. But, are they enough to get us to go that route? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?

    But, with each passing day I get more used to Gmail and less likely to install SBS or Exchange.

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  43. I think that using Gmail has greater cost savings advantages than Exchange. I come from the IMAP world and just a year ago have started using Exchange. To be honest, I find it extremely limiting and somewhat harder to use, especially when you use a lot of filters/rules.

    Since Gmail has free POP3 servers that work great with almost any email client, I believe it could become quite successful in this market place.

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  44. I think that using Gmail has greater cost savings advantages than Exchange. I come from the IMAP world and just a year ago have started using Exchange. To be honest, I find it extremely limiting and somewhat harder to use, especially when you use a lot of filters/rules.

    Since Gmail has free POP3 servers that work great with almost any email client, I believe it could become quite successful in this market place.

    Like

  45. A sourceforge project appears to have accomplished the same feat. The app is called Remote Calendars and, unless you’re running Outlook 2003, it won’t work.

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  46. A sourceforge project appears to have accomplished the same feat. The app is called Remote Calendars and, unless you’re running Outlook 2003, it won’t work.

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  47. Robert, most of the time I have no idea what you are referring to but now I know why my son’s email address changed to @gmail when he got a new job.

    I read your blog even though I didn’t know what a blog was two months ago. I cannot remember how I even got to your blog but I read it most days. I love the links. They are like eavesdropping on a conversation at a party and going home with notes on things to look up and learn more about.

    I thought about you the day you drove from Seattle to California. I live 2 miles from I-5 in Oregon. Good luck in your new job.

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  48. Robert, most of the time I have no idea what you are referring to but now I know why my son’s email address changed to @gmail when he got a new job.

    I read your blog even though I didn’t know what a blog was two months ago. I cannot remember how I even got to your blog but I read it most days. I love the links. They are like eavesdropping on a conversation at a party and going home with notes on things to look up and learn more about.

    I thought about you the day you drove from Seattle to California. I live 2 miles from I-5 in Oregon. Good luck in your new job.

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  49. Gotta agree with Scoble’s comment. The average person is not using RSS, reading blogs, or blogging. There are many people that are still becoming comfortable with web mail. They spend a lot of time learning something new and are not willing to invest the time to learn something new if functionally it provides the same service. Lessons in Brevity

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  50. Gotta agree with Scoble’s comment. The average person is not using RSS, reading blogs, or blogging. There are many people that are still becoming comfortable with web mail. They spend a lot of time learning something new and are not willing to invest the time to learn something new if functionally it provides the same service. Lessons in Brevity

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  51. I think all of you are a bit off for giving all your personal email to some web hosting giant or another. I guess you all stopped wondering why it is free.
    It’s free, and so is your life for anyone who wants to know all about it…
    I guess you should all make demands for better and better free products, and why not, you’re giving them your entire private life and conversations for 100% free. I guess it makes you feel valuable, when they give it all for free, and you give them it all for free, and the advertisers pay for both of you to do it.
    The cost winds up coming out of everyone’s pocket, in the end user price.
    Freeloading isn’t just for the government cheese people.

    Like

  52. I think all of you are a bit off for giving all your personal email to some web hosting giant or another. I guess you all stopped wondering why it is free.
    It’s free, and so is your life for anyone who wants to know all about it…
    I guess you should all make demands for better and better free products, and why not, you’re giving them your entire private life and conversations for 100% free. I guess it makes you feel valuable, when they give it all for free, and you give them it all for free, and the advertisers pay for both of you to do it.
    The cost winds up coming out of everyone’s pocket, in the end user price.
    Freeloading isn’t just for the government cheese people.

    Like

  53. With the Saas (Software as a Service) Model, Exchange based email services is offered to and used by many small and medium sized businesses. No servers required (for the SMB). You can access outlook from your desktop, the internet (Outlook Web Access), and your cell phone (PDA, blackberry, or Palm). You don’t have to miss the features you are used to and the service is excellent for a fracton of the cost of maintian your own servers. So maybe Microsoft does understand where the future is headed!

    Like

  54. With the Saas (Software as a Service) Model, Exchange based email services is offered to and used by many small and medium sized businesses. No servers required (for the SMB). You can access outlook from your desktop, the internet (Outlook Web Access), and your cell phone (PDA, blackberry, or Palm). You don’t have to miss the features you are used to and the service is excellent for a fracton of the cost of maintian your own servers. So maybe Microsoft does understand where the future is headed!

    Like

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