Is the world ready for a replacement to Outlook?

Everyone loves to beat up on Microsoft's Outlook. Including me! See Outlook Haters Anyone? and Outlook 2003 Rant.

It is true that Outlook is a bit of an abomination. It's large, slow, and as of the latest release, the user interface has gotten that much worse.

Even Microsoft execs agree according to Rafe Needleman (see link above): "I confront Microsoft execs about these and other Outlook crimes whenever I get a chance. The result is usually a rolling of eyes; the Microsofties know they have a problem child on their hands, but due in part to internal politics, it's a very hard product to fix. "

Still it is also true that everyone on the planet practically uses Outlook. I don't know the numbers but I bet it accounts for over 70% of the email clients out there. Is there any point to trying to unseat it?

I am spending a few days with the Java faithful at JavaOne, getting a dose of how the other half lives. The faithful hate everything Microsoft (which I do not - I like Microsoft, sometimes begrugingly, sometimes bitterly, but I like them.) They use Eudora, Mozilla and a few other apps.

But you know what Outlook has that none of those have? And this is the reason why I continue to use Outlook? It has great integration between your contact list, email, and calendar. Having a single master list of contacts used across the board is really important. (The other thing that Outlook has, which right now is not a benefit to me, but is super important is group calendaring and meeting scheduling.)

So why is there no other email application out there (is there?) which does this integration? No major one anyway?

Enter Mitch Kapor's Chandler project (I shudder to call it "Mitch Kapor's" because there are lots of other people involved, but that's what everyone calls it.) They are trying to build just such a grand integration, inspired at some level by that long ago, seminal application, Agenda.

I wonder if the deeper Microsoft digs itself with Outlook, the more of a chance Chandler and others will have?
Posted on June 28, 2004 and filed under Technology.