Yesterday I spoke about how IBM's support of OpenOffice will mean little if OpenOffice doesn't include an Outlook-killer. I don't mean just a mailer like Thunderbird. I'm talking about an application that combines contact management, information management, email, and calendaring into a single package and has the ecosystem to address the niche needs that invariably crop up with these sorts of applications.
Some of you pointed to Evolution, probably the most promising of the Outlook-replacement projects. (No one else said, but there's also Chandler.) Evolution's s pretty much got everything that Outlook offers -- calendaring, e-mail and contact management. There's a note facility to boot and the interface is rather Outlookish as well (for better or worse).
But to my mind, Evolution is exactly the problem that I'm talking about. The project provides Outlooks basic functionality, but lacks Outlook's ecosystem of plugins. Those plugins let consumers tailor Outlook to suit a wide-range of needs. Yes, the project has its EPlugins extensible architecture, but at last count there were only 11 such plugins. There are dozens if not hundreds of add-ons for Outlook providing anything from SPAM filtering to RSS reading to project management.
What's more Outlook's popularity makes it the default test scenario for third-party apps and services When I needed to retrieve my email from my mail server hosted with Network Solutions, for example, using Outlook was a cinch. There were clear instructions on the process of sucking down my e-mail and it worked flawlessly. But try that with Thunderbird and it was darn impossible. The same goes with syncing with any handheld or working with a third-party project management package. If there's any PIM that's going to be tested against its Outlook.
If Evolution or Chandler are to replace Outlook then in any significant way they've got to:
a) be bundeled with OpenOffice
b) provide functionality improvements over Outlook or develop the necessary eco-system to compete with application.