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Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Full Version for PC (543-01904)

1 rating: 5.0
Software

Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 provides an integrated solution for managing and organizing e-mail messages, schedules, tasks, notes, contacts, and other information. Outlook 2003 delivers innovations you can use to manage your communications, organize … see full wiki

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1 review about Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Full Version...

Microsoft Outlook 2003; The Best Just Keeps Getting Better

  • May 21, 2004
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Spam-filer is greatly enhanced; better support for email; new look and feel.

Cons: Spam-filter does not “learn.”

The Bottom Line: Outlook 2003 with enhanced spam-filtering, more robust email handling, and tighter interface, is a must have for the professional technology savvy professional on the go.

Authors Note: This is the first of six reviews I will be presenting on the Microsoft Office 2003 Professional Edition. The reviews will include Outlook 2003, Word 2003, Excel 2003, Access 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Publisher 2003, which are all separate applications under the Office 2003 Professional banner.

Okay, I’ll admit it I am a computer and technology junkie. Forget Generation X, this is one baby boomer that knows, loves, and uses technology proudly. I have a Laptop (two in fact), a PocketPC, and cell phone, which I carry with me at all times. I like all of my pertinent information at my fingertips; from addresses to scheduling, emails to passwords, to access to the Internet, to the notes I make to myself throughout the day. And I want it available electronically! I used to carry a bulky, space hogging Franklin Planner, and every year I would dutifully change out the calendar, and insert more address sheets. Needless to say I hated it, but I had not other choice.

The mid-90’s ushered in the era of contact management software, and things got a little better, but not much. After all there was no way to take the information stored on desktop my computer with me unless I printed it all out, this was self-defeating. And there was no email integration or newsreader included in the software! Then along came the electronic address books; no thanks, no way to get the information from my contact manger into the ugly little but unwieldy beasts.

Microsoft changed all this for me when the company introduced the first version of Outlook just after it released Office 95 (remember that clunker?). Finally, a contact manger that integrated email, a newsreader (though later version of Outlook did away with the newsreader incorporating it instead into Outlook Express), address book, contact database, calendar, notes, appointment scheduler all in one package. I was hooked from the beginning and zealously transferred all of addresses from my Franklin Planner into Outlook and never looked back.

But Outlook has become more than just a contact manager for me, it has become an indispensable tool for managing not only my addresses, but email, and scheduling as well. Now I mange all six of my external email address via Outlook, though of late with spam becoming a worldwide problem this had become much more of a chore. Earlier versions of Outlook lacked robust tools to block spam, but I heard early on that the new release Outlook 2003 would resolve the issue in fine fashion. So it is that I awaited the release of Microsoft Outlook 2003 with much anticipation.

The Product

Microsoft Outlook 2003 provides an integrated solution for managing and organizing e-mail messages (Exchange, POP3, and HTTP), schedules, tasks, notes, contacts, and other pertinent information in one sleek, easy to use package. Outlook 2003 delivers innovations you can use to manage your communications, organize your work, and collaborate with others—all in one place.

Outlook 2003 represents the first all new look and feel for the contact manager since the release of Outlook 97. I like to new and feel, it’s colorful without being too bright, smooth and easy on the eyes. There is better support for the ever expanding outside email protocols, and a bevy of enhancement which make using Outlook 2003 easier then ever. But, probably the best new feature in Outlook 2003 is something you won't immediately see, but which you'll know is there because of something else you won't see; junk mail. I'm referring to the new enhanced Outlook junk-email filter, which in my unofficial six month testing has done an extraordinary job of purging my inbox of nasty, dirty, rotten spam.

In addition to the new enhanced spam filter, which replaces the rather ineffective filter Microsoft had been using for several years, there are other product enhancements worth considering an upgrade to Outlook 2003 for:

Block those unwanted attachments. To help prevent unwanted attachments from consuming too much storage space, Outlook 2003 blocks e-mail messages and files from those not on your Safe Senders List. After you examine and approve the message, Outlook 2003 downloads the full message and file.

Automatically organize messages and receive reminders with enhanced Rules and Alerts. Organize incoming e-mail messages according to your preferences and setup Outlook 2003 to automatically trigger alerts to remind of important events or upcoming appointments.

Manage all your e-mail in one place: access, send, and receive e-mail messages from multiple accounts—including work, personal, or Web-based e-mail accounts such as MSN Hotmail, EarthLink, and Yahoo Mail— within a single view. Within Outlook 2003 you can setup and configure to receive mail from Microsoft Exchange Server, POP3, IMAP, HTTP, and third party providers.

The reading pane—one of my favorites—has been improved, allowing messages to be read and responded to without actually opening them in a separate windows.

A search folder has been added, allowing you to easily see things like all your flagged messages. You can create custom search folders, which automatically perform the search in the background, allowing you to quickly view collections of messages selected by your chosen criteria.

Taken together, Outlook 2003’s new features and enhancements significantly improve the programs usability, especially for people who send and receive copious amounts of e-mail, like me. If you're one of these people, the improved spam filter should be enough to sell you on the upgrade, from version 2002 to version 2003, however the enhanced feature set Outlook 2003 brings to the table should seal the deal.
Under The Hood
When you first open Outlook 2003, the “Favorite Folders” list shows Inbox, Unread Mail, For Follow Up, and Sent Items on the left hand side of the display, while the right hand side displays the content of the folder highlighted. I personally prefer the “Folder List” on the left, which displays all of the principle folders available in Outlook 2003; i.e. Calendar, Contacts, Inbox, Notes, Send Items, Tasks, Search Folders, and Archive Folders, ready and only a click away.

At the bottom of the left pane, icons representing the various folders are displayed; simply click the icon and the contents are displayed in both panes. Click on Calendar for instance and on the left two months (current and following) are displayed with the dates appointments are scheduled bolded, while on the right the current day is displayed with any appointments and or holidays colorfully displayed. At the top of the page, the various menu bars allow you to perform a number of tasks, depending on which folder you are currently in. In Calendar for example, I can easily change views from Day/Week/Month to Day/Week/Month with Autopreview, to Active Appointments, to Events, etc. This versatility greatly enhances the usability of the program by allowing me to view information in a variety of ways.

Those familiar with earlier version of Outlook will appreciate the new look and feel of the interface. The fonts and graphics are a lot crisper, yet the overall effect is smoother and brighter then before, and it mirrors the look and feel of the rest of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite.

One of the most useful feathers of Outlook 2003 is the email notification tag that appears at the bottom right hand portion of the display whenever new mail arrives. The new mail tag displays the sender’s name, and subject line in a translucent box, which becomes solid and clickable if the mouse cursor is rolled over it. If clicked the email will be displayed, if not it will slowly fade from the screen after 10 seconds, or after a set time you can set. How cool is that?

Anti-Spam Filter, Finally…

I use Outlook 2003 as my default e-mail client, on multiple machines (primary workstation, laptop, & PDA), for more than a than six month and the anti-spam filter is working like a charm. I use it in conjunction with a third party anti-virus program (Norton Internet Security) and the results are nothing less than spectacular.

When the anti-spam filter is set to "high" blocking mode, the Outlook filter managed to block almost all of the spam on my list. Spam, and or junk email are banished to the junk-mail folder instead of my inbox. Once there, spam can be read to determine if it is indeed spam and then deleted, or moved to the inbox. While not 100 percent effective in blocking pornographic spam containing pictures, Outlook 2003 does a good enough job as to deserve two thumbs up; your results may vary of course, depending on how much mail you receive, filter settings etc.

Because the spam filtering is built into Outlook 2003, there is no need to install a separate application. In the past, this hasn't been so much a compatibility problem as a bother; but as stated above I still use a third party anti-spam application, which integrates seamlessly with Outlook 2003 and only serves to booster my protection.

That is not to say that the Outlook 2003 Spam Filter is perfect; i.e. while you can add senders to the anti-spam safe list (which by default already includes your Outlook contact list) and also block addresses that send you known spam, the system doesn't attempt to learn from what mail you mark as "spam" and "not spam." Not good, but then the spam-filter does represent a quantum leap over what Microsoft was offering in earlier versions of Outlook.

I understand that Microsoft has systematically and methodically looked at millions of known spam and non-spam e-mails and fashioned a filtering apparatus based on some 100,000 variables. This filter is in turn installed as part of Outlook 2003 and used to examine each incoming message for its potential to be spam. If the message traverses a certain threshold the message goes to the spam folder. Microsoft provided Outlook 2003 with two anti-spam threshold settings: low and high. The default setting is low.

Conclusion

There are just too many new features and enhancement in Outlook 2003 to details them all here, sufficed to say, I am very pleased with the retooled application. As part of the Office 2003 suite of applications, or as a stand alone product, Outlook 2003 with enhanced spam-filtering, more robust email handling, and tighter interface, is a must have for the professional technology savvy professional on the go.


System Requirements

• Minimum Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP or later, Microsoft Windows 2000 SP3 or later.
• Minimum Processor Type: 233 MHz,233 MHz.
• System requirements details (hard drive): Microsoft Windows 2000 SP3 or later 128MB 150MB, Microsoft Windows XP or later 128 MB 150 MB.

Other Reviews in this series:

Microsoft Word 2003: http://www.epinions.com/content_139607707268

Microsoft Publisher 2003: http://www.epinions.com/content_140382277252



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