Outlook 2007 and RSS

I’ve been testing Office 2007 for compatibility issues on our Plymouth State University campus. For those who haven’t seen the interface, it is SIGNIFICANTLY different from Office 2003 and will likely require some bridging support for those who may not enjoy being beta test guinea pigs like the rest of us! Our Office of Teaching & Learning Technologies anticipates an increase in demand for user training.
Note: All of the images below can be viewed in larger format from my Flickr account by clicking the image.
Microsoft Outlook 2007
I’ve dropped a couple of comparative screenshots of Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 below.

Image 1:

Image 2:

One interesting thing to note is that Outlook is the one app in the suite which doesn’t look radically different. It has the same general interface with the addition of another column on the right which provides a heads-up display of your calendar, events and tasks.

Image 3:

Microsoft did add RSS support to their app in this version. It integrates with mail and new

posts are treated as unread mail.

Image 4:

Here is an example of the feed from think:lab

Image 5:
First the things I like:

  • Integration with my mail client is nice although not necessarily new compared to say Thunderbird. The ability to flag items and mark them for follow-up as you would your email is convenient.
  • I like the display format as it doesn’t require retraining.
  • Integrates nicely with Internet Explorer 7 for finding and adding feeds.
  • Outlook provides the option to download the post and any embedded files as attachments (although I don’t know that it has a particular methodology for viewing or integrating those items with its other products such as Windows Media Player mimicking iTunes podcast service.)
  • There is a nice context sensitive search feature (with an additional plug-in) that makes for quick searches through your feeds.

That said, therre are a few oddities with Outlook 2007 that I find inconvenient and/or frustrating:

  • It may just be my install, but it takes forever to run through a Send/Receive process as Outlook processes both your mail and feed at the same time. Not a big deal for those on high speed internet but it has the potential to bog down dial-up users.
  • My Inbox feeds don’t automatically refresh, it shows I have new mail but unless I click on another category and then back to Inbox, I can’t see my new messages.
  • I’d also like the option to separate my new RSS posts from my actual mail when it comes to Unread items.
  • The feed view also does not seem to provide a way to view all new messages as is found in most other feed readers. You have to click on each feed individually to see the feeds. Clicking on the RSS Feeds header simply displays the screenshot seen in Image 4 above which touts the new RSS feature.
  • Not all my feeds imported nicely from my OPML file. While the feeds render just fine in other readers, for some reason Outlook 07 has issues with some feed formats. I’ve seen posts around the web which mention that Outlook 2007 really depends upon Internet Explorer 7 so I did upgrade my browser to see if that would remedy the problem. I now do not have as many errors but still see a few feeds which will not render. Hmm… I sincerely hope that Microsoft is not taking a proprietary stance with its RSS reader to ensure that it only works well with IE7 rather than via other browsers and/or the copy/paste or import of feed URLs.

All in all, Outlook 2007 is an interesting development. Now I am no seer, but I do feel that the adoption of RSS in Outlook and its integration with IE7 will lead to a surge in the use of RSS, particularly among those who aren’t familiar with the technology. It may not be my primary offline feed reader as I prefer the simplicity of SharpReader but with a few improvements I might consider using it instead.

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4 thoughts on “Outlook 2007 and RSS

  1. You wrote: “Iā€™d also like the option to separate my new RSS posts from my actual mail when it comes to Unread items. ”

    Work-around:
    Create a new searhc folder. Add all unread items in folder InBox wih RSS = “” and you have a new UNREAD WITH NO RSS šŸ™‚

  2. Duncan thanks for the great comment. It took me a bit to work through it but I’ve outlined the specific steps for others below.

    1. Click File -> New -> Search Folder
    2. In the New Search Folder window, scroll down to the bottom and select Create a custom search folder
    3. Click Choose
    4. Type a name for your folder
    5. Click Criteria
    6. Click More Choices
    7. Assign to a category if you choose
    8. Click the check box next to Only items that are:
    9. Select Unread from the drop down menu
    10. Click OK and you will be returned to the Custom Search Folder window
    11. Now click Browse
    12. Clear the Personal Folders check box
    13. Check the RSS feeds check box
    13. Make sure the Search subfolders check box is checked also!
    14. Click OK
    15. Click OK again
    16. Click OK one more time!

    You should now have a new search folder that identifies just your new RSS feeds. To make finding them easier, consider adding the search folder to your Favorites by right-clicking your new Search Folder and selecting Add to Favorite Folders.

    Enjoy!

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