Open Source Outlook Choices

Open Source Outlook Choices

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Open Source

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.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Outlook add-ons

    WHERE does one find out about Outlook add-ons?
    • Here is a good starting place
      Confused by religion
  • RE: Open Source Outlook Choices

    I don't think bundling is the answer. Interoperability is though. Just because MS thinks an e-mail/calendaring application should be bundled with office doesn't mean it should. If the integration between an e-mail client and OpenOffice is tight and automatically set up upon install - that will be good enough. Let's not bloat OpenOffice.
    • Agreed, bundling's not the answer

      If you know anything about the Outlook architecture, then you'll know that it's actually made up of 4 or more separate programs that are 'glued' together on the interface (eg. mail, calendar, contact, tasks, etc).

      If you've ever wondered why some of the setup between mail and contacts is a little goofy, that's the reason; the two programs are trying to talk to each other as opposed to being integrated as a single program.

      That being said, there's no reason for the bundling. Outlook's UI is just a facade of integration - and their basis for the large cost of though it HAS to be this big "all-or-nothing" package.

      What's needed is that ability for separate components to be able to 'talk' in standards (eg.ISO standards) so that users would be able to replace any part with a different part(eg. CalendarA with CalendarB - using whichever mix of components the user prefers.

      The world is surging towards universal Doc/Text/Markup formats (OOXML or Open XML), but there is a huge need for universally sharable DATA too(whether it be a Mail, Database, text file, xml, web, mashups, cellular, mobile, etc) that ALSO speak in established (ISO) data-standards.

      If those Data ISO standards also get established, you'll have the answer to "What's the next big thing on the web". The power of anyone being able to write applications (such as an Outlook-clone) using these Data and Doc ISO standards will completely strip Microsoft of its monopoly power like you haven't seen in 25 years.

      Microsoft will have to become ONE OF the players instead of the only player. I think that would bring competition for great applications like we've never seen before - a student writing code at home could write applications that could compete with Outlook - no joke!

      I suspect we'll see innovation and competition in the next 5 years like we've never imagined could even be possible. These current Outlook choices are just the tip of the iceberg - they still rely on our current set notions of bundling and monolithic applications. I expect a big shakeup to come.
  • You're missing the point, I think.

    It's about choice. Most people use Outlook, because it comes with Windows. Does that mean that everyone uses all the features? No.

    Evolution, minus some plugins, does everything Outlook can do. It even can sync to a PDA without additional software, such Sync. I am currently using Thunderbird, here at work, with no issues, and Evolution at home. There have no issues with either client.

    I prefer that the email client NOT be bundled with Open Office. That way I can choose the client I want to use.
    linux for me
    • Correction. Outlook Express is bundled with Windows

      and has about the same functionality as Thunderbird. I use that at home. Outlook is bundled with MS Office and is tightly intagrated which is usefull for the enterprise.
      • Depends

        Many new PCs come with an MS Software bundle that includes Outlook as part of MS Office and a few other applications as well. So the statement is not entirely false.
        • Thats True.

          The only OEM computer I've ever bought for myself was a Gateway lap top and it did come with a trial version of office 2007. All of my work stations I've assembled myself, It's my business. Heck I still use office 2000 at home and outlook express for email because I'm grandfathered in with my hotmail account.
      • MS Office Not Bundled any more

        I just bought a notebook, and found that NONE of the computers at Best Buy, Circuit City or CompUSA came with Office or Outlook. They can come with a TRIAL version, but if you want it you have to PAY. So it does not come with Office or Outlook. The salesmen said that to save money, smaller amounts or included software is the wave of the future.
        The Rationalist
        • Whenn will WIndoze not be bundled with Hardware OEM's

          I wanted to buy a PC and Notebook. No one these days sell anything without Vista. I requested to rather have XP Pro. No go, they said. Only Vista. Then I asked for a system without OS. Not possible, they said. I can buy the system and delete the OS and not use the recovery CD. What would it then cost I asked. ... Same price.

          Where are we living? Can't we find some realy nice legal way of suing them for monopolising, like MS is now being spanked by the EU for mafia practices of monopolising?

          Anyone still believe in the free market? Capitalism is an Ideology, it's a dream and not reality. At any honest business school, the first principle you learn is that a free market is where everyone has equal oportunity to a market (given they have the cash, which per definition excludes most). The second principle is to prevent anyone else to enter the market, i.e. dominate market share; the main aim of any business strategy is to kill the competition. In this sense, MS is doing exactly what you learn in any business school. Oligarchy.
          • Whenn will WIndoze not be bundled with Hardware OEM's

            Whenn will WIndoze not be bundled with Hardware OEM's?

            Just how mis-informed are you.

            A disparaging term for Windows by Linux, Mac and other non-Windows aficionados. It reflects the long time it takes for Windows to boot up as well as the sluggishness often found in Windows applications, most noticeable with earlier, slower PCs.

            But you would rather have Microsoft Windows XP Pro?
            Can you do a google search? Go to
            and type in winXP computer systems. What comes up at the top of the list.

            Not Ready For Vista??
   Migrate To Windows Vista? later. Check Out Dell's XP Alternative.

            Want more choice 2nd on the list

            XP Computers - Sale Today
   Not Ready to Upgrade to Vista? Save on Windows XP Computers.

            "Then I asked for a system without OS. Not possible, they said."

            Ok not from that store any way and they not going to tell you where you can get one.

            Again can you do a google search?

            IbexPC just one of many places that sell what you are asked for.

            Desktop PC with no Operating-System

            Desktop PC with Linux

            LINUX LAPTOPS

            "I can buy the system and delete the OS and not use the recovery CD."

            If you do get a PC with no Operating-System do you have a OS that you can install? Or would have to go buy Windows XP Pro?
    • outlook does not come with windows outlook express does outlook

      outlook does not come with windows outlook express does outlook comes with MS office outlook is a full mail client outlook express is just a basic email client or windows mail as it's called on windows vista.
      SO.CAL Guy
  • copy, or complete?

    I have a hard time understanding WHY Evolution would need to be bundled WITH OOo to have success. Since both apps are Free, bundling them is ALREADY done: you have both on an Ubuntu CD, for example.

    If you want the code from Evolution to be merged with the code of OOo, I'll answer: why the bloat? I don't use a mailer with my office suite, but I use it on the machine on which I do Web development. Thus, it should be merged with my IDE, no?

    The wonders of Free software is that, through the use of standards and modular programming, everything can be bundled with pretty much anything.

    I don't need Evolution; I enjoy Thunderbird more, because it does have an RSS reader. That one should be bundled with OOo!

    Free Software doesn't have to copy Microsoft's softwares bit for bit. If you want Evolution as your mailer, download it; define it as default handler for the mailto:, imap:, pop: and smtp: protocols, and there you go: half done (this is done through 'preferred apps' in your environment: 1 click). Finish it with the Gnome OOo integrator: you'll get toolbars and buttons for Evolution right in OOo, and OOo themed like Gnome.

    You can do the same with Kmail.
    Mitch 74
    • Evolution does not work with M$

      I use Evolution. It only works with Linux.

      Thunderbird works with M$ and Linux, and it makes a perfect import from Outlook (well, some contact imports did not work perfectly). We recently changed from M$ Office with Outlook and M$IE to 2, Firefox and Thunderbird (incl Calendar plugin). We have not had anyone moaning about a function they used in Outlook not being in Thunderbird. 99% of the users can come by with, Firefox and Thunderbird.
  • Isn't it a little more basic than that?

    If you're running Windows, you ain't running Evolution. Chandler is in preview phase, not really ready for full blown use. And if the company is running Exchange you aren't going to be able to supercede it with Chandler Server.

    If you are on Linux (Unix, BSD, whatever) you sure as hell aren't running Outlook. Right? Of course right.

    I don't consider email to be a required module for an office suite, though a collaboration tool that binds documents, spreadsheets, emails, calendar, etc would be, and may be welcome if it were well done.
  • guess you never used...

    star office v5.1.

    like others have mentioned, why do I need everything integrated in an office suite? btw, here's a list of some msft equivalents/replacements for linux.

    gnu/ choice to the neX(11)t generation.
    Arm A. Geddon
    • oops, here's that link...

      sorry. :-(
      Arm A. Geddon
      • Awesome List!

        This list is quit useful to anyone who still believes there are no programmes for Linux. Some M$ programmes are, however, much more polished. But Linux and Apple (Darwin Linux now) are improving. My son (graphic designer) now has a Mac with all graphic design programmes from Adobe that works as well on Mac as the counterparts on M$.
  • Thunderbird

    Probably it is because of my knowledge of Netscape Mail, but I find Thunderbird settings and configuration easier adaptable for a new mail account. Of course, I haven't dealt with recent Outlook releases, as I simply do not need it...
    • Thunderbird is hard?

      I never realized Thunderbird was hard to use. I have set up Outlook Express and Thunderbird before, using pretty much the same settings (my parents' computer and mine, we have the same server settings) and Thunderbird was easier for me to use. Plus it comes with a spam filter built in and addons for it are amazingly endless. I won't ever use Outlook.
      Btw, isn't Microsoft 'terminating' Outlook in favor of like Windows mail? What about that?