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Programming IT Technology

More On Kapor's Attempt To Best Outlook 229

An anonymous reader writes "There's a story on the Boston Globe's Digital MASS section about Mitch Kapor , the guy who created Lotus 1-2-3. He will reportedly spend about $5 mil to create something competing with MS Outlook. More of the story here." We mentioned this a few months ago as well, and it sounds like any software release is still some time off.
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More On Kapor's Attempt To Best Outlook

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  • Best of luck to him (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xactoguy ( 555443 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @03:56AM (#4943251)
    I definitely wish him the best of luck. Having a free email/calender/planner/whatever else piece of software that is free, better than Outlook, and available for Mac, Linux and Windows is certainly a hefty goal, but if he can pull it off it will certainly be an excellent feat.
  • by ottawanker ( 597020 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:23AM (#4943279) Homepage
    Since when is "Microsoft Outlook shipped with most Windows computers"?

    Seems to me that if Outlook was shipped, Microsoft wouldn't have gone to all the trouble to work Outlook Express into the OS as they have.

    It seems like a well funded project, and seems 'noble' enough, but is it really needed? I just use KMail for e-mail. Even at work where I do use Outlook for Exchange connectivity, we don't really use the Calender features. Maybe if I had a PDA and could sync back and forth, but then I'd have to get used to entering all my appointments into the calender. It's easier to just write it down on a piece of paper or use my brain.

    All I'd really need if I was in a Linux shop would be a mail client that could connect to Exchange (and there are already several projects working on this), but if it were a Linux shop, we wouldn't have Exchange, would we?

    Also, a little off topic, Slashdot is soo slow (so slow as to be unusable) every day from about 2:30 AM to about 3:30 AM [EST].. I had to post this comment twice, since I lost it the first time due to a server timeout.
  • IMHO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tgrotvedt ( 542393 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:26AM (#4943283) Journal
    Outlook is extremely overrated, people use it simply because it comes with the most widely used desktop OS on the planet. I think Evolution is equal to Outlook (and better because it has none of those vunrabilities).

    I for one think the "Identity/Account" system is one of the most self-contadictory buggy confusing systems in any mail client. It sucks! I think apps like Evolution, KMail, Mozilla Mail, Netscape Communicator and even pine tower over outlook in usability.

    I'm really looking forward to the maturation of the K suite (KOffice), as it works in such harmony with the K environment. As soon as the prones at K ditch XFree86 (a looong way down the track) in favour of a nicer, more responsive light system (ala OS X), I will be home and hosed.

    Outlook has already been "bested", but if Kapor wants to throw another superior client out there, then I'm all for it!

  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:26AM (#4943284)
    It won't work, and for the same reason that people don't switch over from IE. Outlook/IE is the default. It's what came with their computer and they're just too lazy/actually like it/uninformed/used to it to change over.

    Even if it is significantly better, it's not likely to gain much of a hold.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • bing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:54AM (#4943341) Homepage
    Maybe I'm the only one, but I like alt-tabbing between applications. In my last job, I found it a never ending annoyance to not be able to alt-tab between my email and calendar because Outlook is a single program (e.g., you're looking at your 25th email in the inbox, switch to calendar to see if you're available on the date of some lame meeting, remember you forgot to check the time, go back to inbox - scroll down through the junk, find that email again, go back to calendar, it's automatically returned to today's date so you have select the relevent date again, and finally you can check - it's a Royal Pain!) At home, I found Evolution to be similarly annoying. Even if one organization makes a product like this, they should be able to make it act as several components rather than a single program. Then it's just a flash back and forth.
  • Re:Better how? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lennart78 ( 515598 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:56AM (#4943345)
    If I might make a suggestion: Keep out anything that comes near VBScript, auto-rendering of e-mail, and other technologies that are easily misused by virus-builders. Outlook performs well enough as a groupware client, but its abundance of features are often used against it.
  • by Kunta Kinte ( 323399 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:35AM (#4943424) Journal

    I'm working on the necessary MAPI code to have outlook connect to open source servers, eg. Cyrus, OpenLDAP, etc. but still export all functionality. Have been for a few months now. Haven't got to calendering yet ( still working on the message store), I'm hoping on an alpha code release in late Jan maybe Feburary.

    The truth is the client does most the work not the server. All the server is an IMAP server with a special 'calender' folder that appointments etc. are stored. Cyrus or any other IMAP server would suffice.

    The issue is that Microsoft has made sure that outlook 'MAPI intermediary code' ( in want for a better name ) requires a little more from the server, enough to mean that that code has to be written for the client.

    There are many solutions out there that have written the MAPI dlls necessary. Baynari, Lotus, Samsung, etc. all do this. Hopefully we'll have a GPL version soon.

    Alternatively, theres the iCal spec which is almost done I hear. Unlike the other iCalender specs, it defines the transport protocol ( relies on Beep I believe ). That should be interesting as well.

  • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:50AM (#4943454) Homepage Journal
    So what exactly is wrong with Lotus notes ??

    Um, everything?

    My biggest complaint is that the interface is completely nonstandard, so nothing is where it would be expected. The designers couldn't even make the password dialogue box a normal one, so you can't tell how many characters you've entered.

    It's also terrible at handling multiple users on the same workstation.
  • by Subcarrier ( 262294 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:57AM (#4943471)
    Evolution is also trying this, and they deliver Exchange connectivity.

    As someone who uses both Outlook and Ximian [] Evolution [] extensively, I think that Evolution already beats the crap out of Outlook in speed, usability and features. It still has a few rough edges and some stability problems but it is definately the best email client I have ever used. Of course, it only runs on Linux and Unices at the moment, which doesn't really put it head to head with Outlook. Looks like Kapor is planning to go after M$ on their own platform.

    What is currently missing is a good server side solution (although many people are working on this). Maybe Kapor will create a viable alternative. I just hope he has the good sense to put some serious effort into the design of the client-server protocol and to document it well so that it can be easily integrated into any email client.
  • What would happen... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @06:04AM (#4943480) Journal
    if Mitch Kapor, Ximian, and Mozilla ever got together? With Andy Hertzfeld for lead UI designer?

    Er, sorry bout that, it's late (early?) And I must be dreaming.... good night, all.
  • by mccaffer ( 80806 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @08:13AM (#4943661)
    looking at their use of xml tech and the url like nav bar at the top, doesn't their choice of wxwindows seem strange!!??!!!
    I would have thought that what they are attempting to do would be best implemented in mozilla's toolkit. perhaps they could help speed along MRE. I know mozilla can be slow, but the phoenix project has shown that it can be better optimised.
    perhaps with their resources they could help out not just in this application but with others. they themselves wold obviously benefit as mozilla is ported to more platforms.
    so please, OSAF, consider mozilla for your frontend!
  • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by the bluebrain ( 443451 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @09:18AM (#4943795)
    • The user interface stands out amongst the rest of Windows applications, 'cos it isn't a Windows application, at least it doesn't look like the design team have read the Windows UI manual.
    That would be because it isn't a Windows app. It's a 16/32-Windows / Mac / Unix app, and consistent in itself over all those platforms. It's also been around since 1989 [], so it predates any Windows UI mandates.
    • However it does do some nice things, but it still sucks big time as an email client.
    How exactly? Out of the box, it's unusual, but also has some unusual benefits. The main thing I appreciate is that even just as an email client, it's infinitely flexible - just adapt & extend as desired, in the easy-to-use RAD environment.

    I'm not saying that Lotus Notes doesn't suck - but at least slam it for the right reasons :)
  • by WestonB ( 53247 ) <wbustraan&gmail,com> on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:00AM (#4944017)

    Check out CorporateTime []

    It is a calendaring server that works in conjunction with an existing LDAP and mail server

  • Re:I'd like to know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:54AM (#4944240)
    how many people actually consider an outlook-killer such a killer app as to be worth $5 million?

    Listen, we're in the dark ages as far as collaboration software goes. The more money that gets thrown at this problem, the better.

    It's not just that there's no good collaboration software out there. It's that nobody even knows how to do collaboration in a way that doesn't absolutely suck. Somebody needs to start at the beginning and ask the questions, "What does it need to do?" and "How does it need to do it?" Nobody has asked those questions in a comprehensive way yet, so we've ended up with glorified email applications like Outlook and Notes that rely on a store-and-forward message-passing system, built around a central server and a lot of caches. All the eggs in one basket, so to speak.

    Somebody needs to take collaboration all the way back to the drawing board. Is Kapor the guy to do it? No idea. But it's good that somebody is trying.
  • Enhanced IMAP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday December 23, 2002 @11:06AM (#4944312)
    All the groupware products seem to rely on some proprietary protocol between the client and the server for their native, feature-rich behavior.

    I'd like to see the IMAP protocol expanded so that it could perform most of these tasks. Outlook and Exchange are most of the way there, except for the ability to use your calendar or do things like busy searches.

    An expanded IMAP protocol (if it was open) would allow for non-"rich" clients to still work and participate meaningfully; calendar should be a folder that displays appointments in a human-readable format, with the idea that a 'rich' client would parse it into whatever GUI or textmode the user wanted.

    We'd end up at a place where, instead of having to buy and use one client and one server product, it'd be possible to mix-match based upon what you wanted.

    Unfortunately I think that the whole groupware trend is headed to the web and no one wants to invest in a whole lot of client-side technologies.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.