I’m serious. After upgrading to Outlook 2007, and being frustrated by its poor performance, I’ve taken to using Outlook Web Access instead. It is far more responsive than Outlook 2007 on my system. Furthermore, by keeping Outlook closed instead of hogging the CPU, everything else seems to run faster as well. Fortunately Outlook Web Access, or OWA as it is affectionately known, is excellent. It was after all one of the earliest AJAX applications, before the term had been invented. It has a familiar three-pane user interface, and features right-click menus and pop-up reminders; it has much of the look and feel of Outlook but mostly running on the server. The one thing that is not so good is search. Oh yes, and the fact that is has zero offline functionality, but on a desktop attached to an intranet, that’s not an issue.
The irony is that Microsoft is the company which insists (for obvious reasons) that we still need rich desktop applications. I agree, especially when it comes to apps like Word and Excel. But Outlook 2007 has made me shift in the other direction.
Incidentally, I don’t think the problems with Outlook are simply because of an underpowered machine. This desktop isn’t brand new, but it has a decent 2.75 GB of RAM and a 3.00 Ghz processor. I’ve been testing Vista on the same machine, and Outlook 2007 under a clean Vista install is somewhat improved but still not great. It also seems even more prone to those annoying messages saying a data file did not close properly; performance might be affected. Indeed.
I realise that I could likely solve the performance issues by having a much smaller mailbox. So it’s my choice: Outlook Web Access, or a small mailbox. I’m choosing OWA, though it means persevering with slow Outlook on a laptop when out and about.