Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More Things I Hate: Microsoft Entourage

You know, sometimes there's just no excuse. I like simplicity. Apple's Mail provides that.

But at work, we use Entourage. I suppose so we can be on par with all the other MNG papers. Whoopie. Personally, I don't see a problem with using Mail and letting everyone who works with Windows use Outlook, but I suppose there's a compatibility reason I just haven't considered.

Mail is easy to use. It's like all the iLife software. Like iTunes and iPhoto, you can create folders and smart folders, just like Finder. It just works.

Entourage? Entourage sucks. For some reason, Microsoft and their wretched "Mac BU" think just because you're forced to used one of the Office apps, you secretly desire to use all of them, including stupid mini-apps like the calendar and address book (which by the way, are both completely proprietary).

Not to hold you from your inner-most fantasies, Office for Mac kindly mandates you put all your addresses in its address book, and use its calendar, and write to-do's on its to-do list. Which, of course, do not synchronize with Address Book or iCal. And of course this means you can't keep the address book on your home computer up to date with the one on your work computer. And of course this means your calendar, even though Apple designed iCal to sync with .Mac transparently, is now completely obsolete.

Because who wants to spend an hour after coming home from work updating their calendar?

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Entourage's UI is just bad. They take a few lessons from Gmail. Notably, they have a thing called "categories," which is Microsoft's way of saying "labels." But as far as I can tell, that's where they stopped with the label idea. You can assign a message categories, but you still have to file the e-mail in a folder.

If you're like me, and you hate having messages in your inbox, this can be particularly redundant and unintuitive.

Further, the default view for the inbox and each folder you create is set to show in "Groups," something else Microsoft knew you would love.

Groups? Yeah, basically Entourage just separates the messages by day with subheaders. Well, almost day. After like three days it changes from "Wednesday" to "Last Week," or something stupid.

Again, if you're like me, and you like to have the mail program pretty small (it notifies you of messages, why do you need it to be anywhere near fullscreen?), you'll find this eats up space. A lot of space.

The icing on the cake? To change view options for a folder, you have to change it via a submenu in the menu bar. No keyboard shortcut. And you can't select more than one folder. You have to do it one-by-one. Just what I wanted, Microsoft, how did you know?

Sure, Entourage shows you links, where messages that are similar in subject or content are linked together (much *cough* a lot *cough* like Gmail's conversations), but it's just another Microsoft pain-in-my-butt.

Now that I'm out of college, I find myself using Word a lot less, which I suppose is very nice. Since we use News Edit Pro at work, I don't use it there at all. I use Excel as an e-checkbook, and to balance what Caitlin and I owe each other (e.g., groceries, utilities). And I do still use Word occasionally. But as I write this in TextEdit, and it checks my spelling, and I can use OpenOffice (which will probably have an OpenXML plugin months, nay seasons, ahead of Microsoft's Mac BU). Well, I think I use NeoOffice, because it doesn't require X11.

I should just come right out and say I hate Microsoft. But I'll probably trash another one, two or ten of their products. So I'll save that for a day far down the road.

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