Outlook 2007 Rant

Update: It looks like Microsoft may have found the problem and provided a solution. The KB933493 article provides a link to an Outlook 2007 patch that claims to fix performance issues that occur when you work with items in a large .pst file or .ost file. Be sure to leave comments with your results. I am trying it now…

I have been a long time user of Outlook and Exchange before that (remember Schedule+ anyone?). Outlook has made steady progression over the years with more/better features and better offline access up through Outlook 2003. However, with Outlook 2007 I am completely and utterly frustrated! I have been running Windows XP SP2 and Outlook 2003 for a while under Parallels on my dual core Macbook Pro with good results. I have since upgraded Outlook 2003 to 2007 and have entered a situation where it literally can take minutes for an action to complete and control returned to me.

This is completely unacceptable. Let me preface the following comments with the fact that Outlook 2007 has very little new functionality and is probably the least overhauled of any of the Office applications in the suite. Now you may be wondering why I do not switch back to 2003 if it performed well and 2007 does not have a bunch of new features… Well there is at least one new feature I am hooked on and it allows me to publish my calendar to an external server for consumption by people outside of the IU organization. This feature alone caused me to try to make Outlook 2007 work for me.

First I thought maybe Office 2007 needed Windows Vista to perform well. So I went down that path and installed Vista in a Parallels hosted VM. No luck – Outlook 2007 is still a serious dog. I have always been a pretty big Microsoft fan and have not bought into the Microsoft produces bloat-ware mantra, but in this case I think it might be true. With that said, I think that overall Office 2007 with the new ribbon interface is a step in the right direction and makes the feature rich applications more accessible to casual or new users. But how could they take an application that used to perform very well, add very little new functionality, and then make it perform like crap?

Others may be wondering why I even care about Outlook if I am running a Mac as my primary operating system. Well to make another long story short, Entourage is also crap and has corrupted my calendar more than once. If you live and die by your electronic calendar, this only needs to happen once before you head for the hills. Will the upcoming Office for Mac fix Entourage; I seriously doubt it. Argh… Rock < Me > Hardplace

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Outlook 2007 Rant

  1. PS – The laptop has 3GB of RAM and I allocate 1GB to the VM. You would think either XP or Vista would run decent with 1GB or RAM! I also tried VMWare’s Fusion beta it was no better. Now it is in beta and they warn you it will be slower. Maybe the production Fusion will be the ticket to nirvana.

  2. Diane Poremsky (Outlook MVP) published some excellent advice on the situation you encountered. She published it in this month’s Exchange Messaging Outlook newsletter (see slipstick.com for more info). Here’s the bit that might relate to your situation. Best of luck!

    (From Diane Poremsky / EMO vol 11 #21)
    OUTLOOK 2007 SLOWNESS SOLVED?

    Many Outlook 2007 users are complaining about how slow Outlook is. It takes “forever” to send and receive; it takes “forever” to open messages. The standard fix is a new profile, especially if the current profile was used with a previous version of Outlook or moved from another machine using Save My Setting or Windows East Transfer wizard. While this helps some people, it may not be enough, as a new profile reuses some files from the old profile, including extend.dat, outcmd.dat, views.dat, and frmcache.dat. Reusing your PST may also contribute to slowness.

    Based on reports in the Microsoft public newsgroups, deleting or renaming these four files definitely speeds Outlook up. It certainly makes sense to me that any of these could be a problem, especially extend.dat and outcmd.dat. Extend.dat holds information about installed add-ins. Outcmd.dat is toolbar customizations, which are not supported the same way, thanks to extensive use of the ribbon. Frmcache.dat is custom form data, this too is known to become corrupted now and again. Views.dat is less problematic, but like the others, Outlook will create a new one when it needs it.

    Not every installation will have all four of these files, since Outlook only creates them if needed, such as when you customize a toolbar or install a custom form. You may need to show hidden files and folders to find these files (Windows Explorer, Tools, Folder Options).

    Extend.dat is located in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    Views.dat and Outcmd.dat are located at C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    Frmcache.dat is at C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Forms

    Note that in Vista, the two Application Data folder paths are now under C:\users. The Outlook and Forms folder are under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\ and C:\users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft, however, unless you first installed Outlook 2003 then upgraded it to Outlook 2007 or used Easy Transfer to move your profile, these files are unlikely to cause problems in Vista.

  3. I appreciate the suggestion. However in this case, I started with a fresh profile (ie created from scratch). So I don’t think this suggestion will address my issue. In fact, I have created at least three fresh profiles on VMs under both XPsp2 and Vista; all with the same results.

  4. Lance,

    Have you made any additional progress on this issue? I am using a Macbook Pro coreduo, 2 gigs of ram… VMWare Fusion beta 3… Windows XP Professional installed… Outlook 2007 is very slow for me as well. I installed Outlook 2007 from scratch, but then imported my contacts, calendar, tasks pst files from my old 2003 which was on a different computer…

    Jeremy

  5. I have effectively given up and have switched to a Remote Desktop solution. I found that when I need to use Outlook I am almost always connected to the network, so using RDP to remote back into a machine in the office is a pretty good solution. The times when I am not connected, I have my Blackberry to fill in the gaps.

    I too have installed Fusion Beta3 and once you have disabled the debug logging, it does run pretty fast. I have not tried Outlook again under this config. Some of my coworkers say that if you use a Bootcamp partition, instead of a disk file, that IO performance is much better. I personally do not have enough hard disk space to dedicate to a bootcamp partition, but I trust that this would help performance (one less level of abstraction). Best, L

  6. Cindi

    I have just about given up, too. I can’t get outlook 2007 to even run under Parallels–I just get a message that says “this information service is not installed on your computer.” grr.

  7. Javier

    Wait until you try Outlook 2010 Beta!
    It’s utterly disastrous!
    I installed it and for some reason the Outlook application disappeared (no virus, just plain Microsoft when i wanted to get rid of Word 2010 Beta because is worst than 2007). I’m trying to go back to my Outlook 2007 and A message saying that the information service is not installed in the computer prompts up.
    That’s how i got to your page, showed in Google.

  8. Simon

    @javier

    Same thing happened to me… have you found a solution yet?

  9. RudeYute

    Has anyone found a solution to the “information service is not installed on this computer” message yet? I have now had outlook 2010 mess up on my for the 4th time, and I am unable to result back to Outlook 2007 because of this!

  10. chrisu

    I installed 2010, so fed up with the same problems, decided to go back to 2007 now get the message “information service is not installed on this computer”when trying to add a profil, now I cant use 2007

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