Well – the tech preview for Office 2010 is now public – and I am bursting to tell you guys my favorite features of Outlook in Office 14. Being a Microsoftie, I practically live in Outlook…and Outlook 14 has some pretty nifty improvements that I absolutely loved! Here are my personal favorites:

  • Conversation view – saves a whole lot of inbox viewing space, lets me “cleanup” redundant mail in the thread. The really cool thing is that it shows a logical view of the conversation with mail not only from the current folder, but also strings together mail I sent or mail I moved to other folders.

 

  • Scheding meetings – you can now reply to a conversation with a meeting req – just right click and “reply with meeting” – neat. Plus the incoming meeting req now shows your calendar right inside the meeting req – so no extra clicking to navigate and see your calendar whether you are free, if not what meetings are going on. For instance, I can see right away that I can’t accept Nivedita’s meeting due to a conflict, nor move it out by an hour due to other meetings.

 

  • “Seeing” people – Having the photo of the sender integrated right into the mail header – very nice touch. I always underestimated how powerful that can be in a cross-site environment. Seeing photos of people right next to their email/contact list really makes me feel more as if I am really conversing with real people versus just sending messages to a faceless entity in Redmond or NC several thousand miles away. My personal favorites are Dominic’s photo with a VS tattoo on his head(!) and Ed grinning away into the camera :-)

Of course, some of these were available as power toys and other stand alone tools for Outlook 2007, but it’s really nice to see the scenario come together in 2010. There are other small but very thoughtful features like showing space remaining in your mailbox on the left corner when you start getting close to the limit, the quick contacts tab available in the bottom right to expedite IM. Being a tech preview, it has its share of hangs and crashes(aargh!) but I was impressed enough by the new features to keep it installed on my laptop :-)

[Edited: Duh -  removed screenshots showing my mailbox!]