16 thoughts on “Microsoft's Outlook Opens Up to an Uncertain Future”

  1. If you can get IMAP or POP access to Outlook, not too bad migrating email that way.

    This is why using Microsoft products is so aggravating. Everyone else can use standard MBOX mailbox formats which are not only open but work better.

  2. Perhaps I am missing something, but to access the PST via MAPI or Outlook objects, one must actually have Outlook licensed and installed. This opening of the format allows a server to parse the PST without actually licensing Outlook, in order to edit and update stored information. This creates the ability to improve search indexing, information discovery, backup processes, and information sharing on systems which don’t or can’t install Outlook, from Linux and web servers to potentially portable devices.

    I’ve written some Python which calls the MAPI and OOM interfaces via the Redemption library (http://www.dimastr.com/redemption/home.htm) and it was a nightmare. This pst opening is a good first step, in the hopes that simpler ways to access knowledge from emails will be developed.

  3. MAPI access is proven to be very unstable over the years and it caused many companies developing plug-in systems for Outlook great headaches.

    We in eM Client virtually love this move since it allows us to do fast and seamless migration from Outlook. Even when Outlook is crashed we’ll be able to take .pst from users backup and import it to eM Client (or any other client)

    Outlook would be a great platform if opened few years ago -> now it’s rule will be hopefully over with upcoming thin clients or unified messaging clients like eM (http://www.emclient.com)

  4. the crazy thing has always been that you cannot use outlook with free hotmail accounts. instead you have to use gmail or aol mail if you want to use the microsoft email client. i know you can use windows live mail client but that is not as full featured.

    they need to get with the crowd and support POP and IMAP with hotmail.

  5. I would call it a preemptive strike.
    Email clients will be changing in the next few years, WAVE … RAINDROP. Microsoft was never good at developing ideas or a guiding line for development (what on earth is Ray doing these days), so let other people experiment. It’s much cheaper too.
    I can just see some Developers going. MS has an installed base of Xm, Wave Xt, Raindrop Xh. So let’s build my new ueber email client to include MS mail or integrate to run in Outlook …

  6. Overall this is a good thing. Developing against .PST files can be done today and yes, its a nightmare (via MAPI), but it does work if you put the effort into it. By documenting .PST internals, hopefully better access methods and higher level functionality can be created (open source community, are you listening?!). Google already has a mail extractor for Outlook .PST so I dont think this changes thiings too much from that vantage point. http://mail.google.com/mail/help/email_uploader.html

  7. In 2006 I used MAPI via Python to migrate my address book and calendar from Outlook to OS X’s Mail and iCal apps, and just copied emails over to my IMAP server to migrate the emails themselves. It’s a fairly clunky API. The Outlook object model did not provide access to every characteristic of an email, such as the detailed headers, at least it did not with Outlook 2000, the version I used when migrating.

    Opening PST up does nothing to make Outlook a platform – you always access a platform through well-defined APIs that can stay constant even when the underlying file format changes. It also does not benefit Microsoft, only people who are writing utilities to migrate away from Outlook to something like Evolution or Thunderbird. Mozilla already has Outlook migration support in Thunderbird, however (probably via the official Microsoft APIs), so this is rather late in the game. In all likelihood this effort was part of the settlement between the EU and Microsoft.

  8. I’m pretty sure that I saw somewhere that MS was starting to move Outlook away from dependance on Windows specific tech, like Active X and MAPI.

    I do know that there has been a lot of griping to MS recently, even among some big institutional adopters of Outlook, about it’s many shortcomings, especially in the cross-platform world. The company that I work for was one of them.

    My question would be, how did Apple get what is apparently a pretty good Outlook client in 10.6? Did they license the tech from MS? No announcement was made…

  9. Great article – this is an incredibly important move – one I think Microsoft should have done years ago. Whether it’s a good or bad move, I’ll leave that to others to decide.

    Here’s why its important – a major amount of mail data is stored in PST files today. If all of these millions of mail files were to to be openly accessible by the open source community and/or third party utilities – the possibilities could be endless – I’m talking ZIP endless, ZIP level of ubiquity. I’m sure that would afford Microsoft with a little more ROI than a dead mail client platform.

    It seems clear that the application that is Outlook is dying – heck, you could even say to an extent that the MS Office package is dying (or being forced to change). “Cloud” is becoming more pervasive and the lock-in that MS has with Outlook is being eroded daily by cheaper and better mail systems and clients (yes, even the Exchange/OWA is killing Outlook to some extent).

    The trick here is the storage platform, Microsoft has created a (somewhat) robust storage platform for mail/calendar/etc data that could be incredibly portable and useful in the futre. Have you ever used “Gmail Backup” or other types of mail archiving utilities? What you get is 6000 .eml files. Not exactly a robust storage solution. Imagine the PST becomes one of the de-facto standard for storing and transporting mail data or archiving this data? I think this is what Microsoft wants.

    Currently, PST data is hard to open, easy to move around but useless after being transported and can’t be open directly off a disc. Opening

    Kevin (@calwell)

  10. This news is an important one – as Outlook is the leading email/calendaring application – and has been a black hole when it comes to integration. This is a great news for any startup that want to innovate.

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