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Want Outlook? MOOL might be right.

There were more than a few people unhappy with the decision to drop Outlook from the Home and Student Edition of Office 2007 based on the comments on my last post. Many seem to feel that dropping Outlook from this inexpensive version of Office puts profits in front of giving customers what they need.

There were more than a few people unhappy with the decision to drop Outlook from the Home and Student Edition of Office 2007 based on the comments on my last post about Office 2007. Many seem to feel that dropping Outlook from this inexpensive version of Office puts profits ahead of giving customers what they need. Rather than fanning the flames of that particular diatribe, I'd like to suggest an alternative for those who don't yet have a license for Outlook.

It's called Microsoft Office Outlook Live (MOOL) and, although the name is similar to recently launched Office Live services, it predates those offerings and represents something a bit more in line with what a lot of people thought Office Live would be. MOOL is a subscription offering that includes a copy of Outlook customized for a subscription model and a hosted MSN Hotmail account that synchronizes with your local PC. At $44.95 per year (through February 28, 2006 - $59.95 thereafter), it costs less than half of the purchase price for a copy of Outlook and adds a lot of value at the same time.

 Here is the description of the subscription offer:

Outlook Live includes a 2 GB* MSN® e-mail account and a copy of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 for Subscription Services, through which you can manage your Hotmail or MSN e-mail, calendar, contacts and tasks. The service also offers powerful virus protection, advanced junk e-mail filters and calendar sharing, as well as integration between Microsoft Exchange Server mail accounts and your Hotmail or MSN e-mail through the Outlook interface.

MOOL includes upgrades to the latest version of Outlook in the annual subscription price. So if you like the idea of a hosted account providing a lot of storage, synchronization with all of your e-mail accounts in a PC-based copy of the latest version of Outlook, and are comfortable with a subscription model, MOOL may be an attractive alternative to purchasing a retail copy of Outlook. At the current price, you'd break even after two years on the software cost alone.

Yes, you can get a 2 GB e-mail account from a number of providers like Google and Yahoo! at no cost. If you already have a licensed copy of Outlook, much of the value in MOOL may be lost on you. Keep in mind though that there are no upgrades for a standalone copy of Outlook - you just buy a new license when a new version is released (at $109 retail). If you are thinking of purchasing the inexpensive Home and Student edition of Office 2007, which does not include Outlook, MOOL may be the perfect companion purchase.