Changes in Outlook 2013

ChangeIsGoodI was working with a group the other day trying to troubleshoot a perplexing issue with Free/Busy, Exchange 2003, and Exchange 2010. I configured my own Outlook 2013 client with a profile for a test user on Exchange 2010, and in the course of trying to see if Free/Busy was working between 2003 and 2010, tried to relaunch Outlook with the /cleanfreebusy switch that I have used countless time. Imagine my surprise when I got an error. It seems that switch is no longer available, which got me wondering what else has changed between Outlook 2010 and 2013. While major functionality is all still there, it turns out there’s a number of things that you might have only used one or twice in a year with a previous version that are now gone in 2013. I might just be late to the party, but I wanted to provide a list of these to raise awareness, since I’m seeing a lot of customers starting to do their client upgrades now. Some are good, some are “meh,” and some are “D’oh!” but all of them came as a surprise to me.

Good riddance.

Here’s the features that are gone from Outlook 2013, for which admins should be eternally grateful. These were things either caused more harm than help, led to too many questions, or perpetuated other things that should have been killed off years ago.

Deliver to PST

PSTs should have been killed a decade ago, so I am very glad to see the “feature” that perpetuates this madness has finally been removed.

Import/Export to old formats

Outlook 2013 can still handle PST files for import and export, and CSV for some reason I have never understood or used, but they removed support for ACT, doc, xls, Notes, TSV, PAB, Outlook Express archives, and others.

Direct Booking

All resource and room reservations have to use the Availability Service and Free/Busy, which means gone are the days of double-booking rooms.

Does anyone really care?

Most of these are features that got little to no usage. Some of them I wasn’t even aware of, but there’s always someone out there who has some dependency on an obscure feature, so be aware these are gone.

Activites Tab

This tab has been replaced by the Social Connector.

AutoPreview

Same functionality, different method-use the Message Preview button on the ribbon to get the same effect.

Calendar Publishing to Office.com

I’ve never seen anyone but sales people publish their calendars to a public service, and if they really want to do this they still can…they just need to use Outlook.com instead of Office.com.

Dial-Up Networking Support

Sorry, Outlook 2013 cannot dial a modem connection or initiate a VPN connection before it connects to Exchange. Your operating system will have to initiate your modem if you don’t have Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and as far as a VPN is concerned, that’s what Outlook Anywhere is for.

Offline Mode

Same basic functionality is provided by Cached mode, but the user gets a better experience and doesn’t have to do anything. It just works.

IMAP support for Sent and Deleted Items

This won’t matter for modern IMAP systems, but if your mailbox is on a legacy IMAP server that doesn’t support XLIST, sent and deleted items will be stored locally.

Journal

Honestly, the only people I have ever seen use the Journal were migrated from a Lotus Notes system. Seriously, if you use Journal and aren’t from a Notes background, let me know in a comment. But since it’s gone, have you seen OneNote?

UDP Notifications

No more troubleshooting long-standing XLATEs on the firewall or absent notifications. Outlook 2013 uses asynchronous polls to check for new content, which is more reliable and efficient.

Search from the Shell

This used to drive me crazy, so I am very glad this is gone. If I want to search my mailbox, I will use Outlook. If I want to search my files, I will use my operating systems. If I want to search the Internet, I will use my search engine. Universal search might be good for some, but I prefer boundaries to narrow scope automatically.

ANSI PST file format

It would have been better if they had eliminated PSTs completely, but any step forward is a good step. Legacy PST format is gone, so no more exporting mailboxes to an ancient format Outlook 2003 can use. Sorry.

Noooooooo!!!!

ToDo Bar

The ToDo Bar has been replaced by Pinned Peeks. That’s like saying your extra strong coffee has been replaced by green tea. It’s not the same, no matter what anyone says.

Outlook Mobile Service

This may not have been a great feature to most users, but those of us who work in datacenters, basements, or other areas with scant 3G/4G/LTE connectivity found OMS a lifesaver, since sometimes the only data that can reliably reach our smartphones is SMS data. Oh well, I guess now we have an excuse for not getting the message!

Notes Customization

If you use Notes, the feature is still there, but imagine going to the office supply closet and finding only one color of Post-It Note, one color ink pen, and everyone has to write in block letters. Now you understand what Notes in Outlook 2013 is going to be like.

/CleanFreeBusy

This one makes perfect sense, since it really only had to do with publishing fresh data to a Free/Busy Public Folder, and that’s only supposed to be an Exchange 2003 thing, but for scenarios where you have a mix of systems, like at the beginning of an upgrade or migration, this will be missed.

If you are getting ready to start your company’s upgrade to Outlook 2013, knowing the above, and socializing it with the user readiness team, will go a long way to reducing the inevitable helpdesk calls that will come in. You’re going to love Outlook 2013, so don’t think this is all that bad, but as with any new version, changes will happen. Knowing about them in advance will be good for everyone.

Written by Casper Manes

I currently work as a Senior Messaging Consultant for one of the premier consulting firms in the world, I cut my teeth on Exchange 5.0, and have worked with every version of Microsoft’s awesome email package since then, as well as MHS, Sendmail, and MailEnable systems. I've written dozens of articles on behalf of my past employers, their partners, and others, and I finally decided to embrace blogging and social media, so please follow me on Twitter @caspermanes if you enjoy my posts.

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