Outlook plus Exchange is email nirvana…

If you consider yourself a power user or even a semi power user of email, and have not tried Microsoft’s Outlook either through Microsoft Office 365 (which has exchange built into it) or using a third part hosted Exchange, then you are (do not shoot the messenger) really and truly missing out.

Sort of like driving from Harwich to Boston in a nice new Toyota Highlander all decked out. (compare to Gmail) Or… the same trip in a Rolls Royce.

It is almost impossible to describe how much better the trip is in a Rolls, because the Highlander is fine in every way. Until compared to the Rolls.

You heard it here first. Outlook plus Exchange is the Rolls Royce of email.

Many large companies use Microsoft Exchange and Outlook for their employees. It used to be that the server was so complicated to manage that companies looked elsewhere. Now, with the many options for Exchange Servers hosted “in the cloud” you do not have to worry even one little bit. All that stuff is taken care of for you.

The best feature is to have the ability for all devices to match. If you send an email from your computer, it puts a copy in the sent folder. And it shows up in the sent folder on your laptop, iphone and ipad as well. If you delete an email from your iphone, it is also deleted from your other devices.

And if you happen to be offline, you can still access/search your old email from the device itself.

If you change a client contact phone number on your iphone, in almost realtime, the change is propagated to your other devices. So you can be confident that any device you grab will be up to date with your important business email.

There are other ways to accomplish these things. But none that I have found to be nearly as elegant and robust as Exchange. Ironically, this enterprise grade email system is also perfect for the small one or two person company.

Outlook is a desktop application. One that many business folks have as the center of their communications. Calendar and Contact management too.

Just this last week I had put the newest version of Outlook on my computer. (the Mac version) And it would not “activate” and was therefore unconnected and useless. Microsoft tried to help, but after two days it was me who solved the issue. At first I was worried, but then I remembered that I could also access the online version (think webmail) and the info there would be fully up to date, even though I never use that part of it. That really too the pressure off as I did not miss an email, all while I was trying to solve the Outlook issue. Rest assured, this was not a failing with either Outlook nor Exchange. Just one of those things that happens with brand new software.

You do not need to pay for exchange (somewhere between 5 and 20 per month) to use Outlook itself. Although you will not get the same benefits mentioned above, even as a regular email client it is great software.

Back in the days when I was selling software retail, many customers were searching for the “Holy Grail” of software. One software that did EVERYTHING. I understood this quest. And it has yet to be found. But Outlook comes as close as any I have seen.

And Outlook has a new cousin. Called OneNote. I have committed to actually start using this software. Like ANY software, there is a learning curve. It has long been on my radar to try it. Generally, it is a place for all your notes, links, ideas, photos, screenshots and just about anything else. It organizes these in such a way as to make all this info accessible, both to you and others, if you so choose.

I have a sneaking suspicion that combined with Outlook, these two become a force to be reckoned with regarding the “One Software To Rule Them All.” quest. I will report back.

Practical Tip: Have you ever been on a website deep in the information/pages and needed to get back to the “home” page but could not find your way? Click on the company logo (usually in the upper left corner) and that will 99.99% of the time take you to the home page. Try it!

For more info on Exchange email, have a look at Rackspace’s page.

Enjoy your weekend,