I still run into customers using older Outlook versions, from 2010 all the way back to 2003. One question I always have to ask in that situation is “why?” For most, it is less a matter of cost, or time to upgrade, and more about not seeing any particular reason to upgrade. In today’s post, we’re going to look at X reasons why you want to upgrade to Outlook 2013.
Outlook 2003 is already near the end of extended support, with an end of life date set for 2014-04-14. Once that date passes, Outlook 2003 is no longer supported. That means no security updates. Yet plenty of business users still use it every day. Outlook 2007 and 2010 are still supported as long as you have the latest service packs, but they both go into extended support in the next couple of years. If you are on 2003 or 2007, you really should update now to ensure you are running fully supported code. If you are using 2010 you are good for years from a support perspective, but there are other reasons to upgrade.
Storage and solid state drives
Mobility, tablets, and BYOD are all big buzzwords these days, and Outlook 2013 has more to offer these devices. With standard mailbox sizes now being deployed in Gigabyte sizes, a user with a large mailbox is going to also have a large OST file. But with Outlook 2013, users (or administrators using GPO) can configure Outlook so that it does not cache all email from the mailbox in an OST. Using a simple slider bar, end users can choose to cache one month, three months, six months, twelve months, twenty-four months, or all their email. Tablet owners with smaller solid state drives in the 32GB or 64GB range will appreciate being able to limit the amount of space email takes up on their portable devices, without having to sacrifice performance on their workstations with full size drives. Of course, Outlook 2013’s OST file size is already compressed, saving up to 40% more space than previous versions.
Speaking of tablets (and convertibles, and touchscreens) Outlook 2013 includes a touch optimized interface that users can choose. When they have a mouse, Outlook 2013 will present the normal interface, but when users want to use touch, Outlook can rearrange and resize the key buttons for a more touch-optimized experience. Touch users will be able to navigate their email and calendar without having to dig out a stylus or use their smallest finger.
Have you ever sent an email out, only to send another one thirty seconds later with the attachment you forgot to add to the first message? Yeah, me too, like three or four times a week. Outlook 2013 can detect when you might have meant to attach a file but forgotten to, and prompt you before sending a message to help you avoid that little oops. Yes, Gmail came up with it first, but that doesn’t subtract from its usefulness.
For companies that don’t want to open up Outlook Anywhere to the Internet, but are willing to expose Exchange ActiveSync, it’s nice to know that Outlook 2013 can connect to Exchange mailboxes using EAS. Of course, that is also the default protocol used to access Outlook.com’s email service, but it’s a nice feature for many companies too.
Cached mode improvements
Running Outlook 2013 in cached mode is much better than previous versions. Initial mailbox setup uses something Microsoft calls Fast Access to provide immediate access to the most recent mailbox items, and then runs caching operations in the background to ensure the OST is ready to go when the user wants to work offline.
Still a very important protocol to millions of users world-wide, IMAP support in Outlook 2013 provides an experience and responsiveness that is comparable to users using OA. It also makes clear to users which folders are not stored on the server (like calendars and contacts) so that non-technical users have a better experience.
Outlook 2013 start faster and shuts down more quickly than previous versions, providing users with access to their email, or letting them shut down, sooner than ever before.
Outlook 2013 provides users with weather information in a small bar at the top of the calendar interface. This uses location detection (or can be set to a specific location) to provide users with their local weather and forecast for the next couple of days. Sure, it’s not a business critical function, but it is darn useful!
The People Hub is the default view for Outlook contacts, and can provide information from users’ other social network contacts if they wish, so that an Outlook 2013 user can have a single place to go for information on all their contacts. It can pull from Outlook, Lync, Facebook, LinkedIn, and SharePoint on its own, and the capability is provided by a published API so that other social networks can write their own connectors if they wish.
With ten great reasons to upgrade, and time running out for Outlook 2003 support, customers who are still using such old versions of Outlook like 2003 and 2007 should make the jump directly to 2013 soon. Outlook 2010 users may not need to upgrade for support, but with the performance improvements and new functionality in Outlook 2013, I’m sure that all of IT and most of management will appreciate the boost.