Tabbed UI's ROCKLotus introduced the tabs in R5, and it was good. No longer did you have to try to keep track of all those open e-mails and Notes
For starters, instead of quickly scanning a list you can easily see...
you have to click outside the current UI window, look at a list, and select from it.
It's a lot more mental context switching to go through. Also note that in Access I have the Provide Feedback form open, but you can't tell that here. You have to know that the second thing in the list is the currently open element. Since Notes makes the switching mechanism part of the same UI as the work being done there is no question. It gets even better when you have multiple copies of the same Access database open, such as when you're comparing versions of an application.
Where Am I?Here is an exercise to try from Notes (I'm using Notes 8 Basic):
- Open your mail
- Right-click the calendar icon and select "Open in new window"
- From the new calendar window, click the mail bookmark
- Notice how it jumps back to the first window. The new window is fixed so it can't load something that is already open.
Grouped taskbar buttons makes this even more fun.
Since Outlook doesn't have tabs, this is the best you can do. One thing I do wish both Notes and Outlook had was a better way to flag which window is the original or first. For Outlook it's the one with the Outlook icon, and it's always either the leftmost in the taskbar or the bottom of the stack. As I close the windows, though, they eventually split apart into separate taskbar buttons when there is enough room. That's a little jarring and disorienting.
I like the tabs in Notes much better, but even then you can get tabs from the same application intermingled with others. It's hard to separate the e-mail with a link from the documents, views or databases the link opens. Notes 8 Standard offers the option to group tabs by application, but I've already expressed my opinion about Notes 8 Standard. :-)
Flexibility Is GoodWhen I used Notes on a daily basis I was bugged by all the reply and forward options. Eight ways to reply to an e-mail seemed like massive overkill to me. Three different ways to forward a message? Are you kidding me?! After working with Outlook for a while, I see the logic.
In Outlook you have two options for replying: Reply or Reply to All. You have one option for Forward. You set the default for whether they include history in the Options dialog(s). At first that seemed like enough, but then I realized it's probably 50/50 what I reply with history versus what I just reply to. In Outlook this means either deleting the history half the time, copying and pasting it in half the time, or it's a trip through the options: Tools > Options > (Preferences tab) E-mail Options button. Set up the reply style, reply to the message, then go back and undo all that since I don't want that to be the default.
You have exactly ZERO control over whether attachments are included. They are never included on a reply. They are always included on a forward. Want to reply with attachments? Use Forward. Don't want the attachments on a forwarded e-mail? Manually delete them.
I can understand that most users typically only use one style of reply or forward and Outlook works for the majority. But I can't imagine I'm the only person in the world who doesn't want to reply with history to every single e-mail I get. In Outlook I feel forced into that.
What Outlook Gets RightSetting up a mailbox is just a tab on the user account while you're setting them up in Active Directory. Not having to deal with ID files is nice. The lack of options in Outlook means people can't get confused as easily. Outlook's offline mode is also nice in that it's just a checkbox. I check "use Exchange cached mode" and it automatically sets up the synchronization for me. I never even know it's happening. It would be nice if there was something in the Notes setup routine that would let you configure that during install (and script it for large rollouts).
Maybe 8 years of working with Notes has me so accustomed to it that I can't see the good in Outlook. I find the features anemic and administration is rudimentary. As for the much-vaunted usability, I wonder why Outlook 2007 introduced a Notes-style bookmark bar and doesn't fully implement the Ribbon UI?