Microsoft Outlook 2010 was recently released, and your SMB could well be considering whether it should upgrade. Having used the RTM version for the past month, I've drawn up a list of features I liked most about it.
Outlook 2010 has finally been updated with the ribbon interface found in the rest of Microsoft's Office family. The downside: Training might be necessary for some employees if your company is still using an older version of Microsoft Office. Despite not liking it initially, I have grown to appreciate the ribbon interface. All in all, I consider its presence a nice upgrade by itself.
Conversation e-mail view
A widely touted feature, the conversation view in Outlook is also known as threaded view. Rather than having to painstakingly trace through individual e-mails for specific information, relevant e-mails are grouped together as part of the same "conversation," reducing frustration and dramatically improving productivity.
In the past, I was forced to rely on the Outlook plug-in in Google Desktop so as to retain a semblance of productivity when tracking down correspondences. Unfortunately, the Google plug-in has a track record of crashing Outlook from time to time. I was looking forward to the enhanced search capabilities in Outlook 2010 and I must say that I was not left disappointed. The new search is far superior in speed and integration, with keywords appropriately highlighted in bright yellow for easy identification.
More coherent folder arrangements
The e-mail folders in pre-Outlook 2010 are sorted alphabetically, resulting in the unfortunate situation where important folders such as "Sent" and "Draft" are scattered throughout the list. It's not a crucial matter, but it's a relief to see Outlook 2010 set things right by clustering key folders such as Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items and Delete Items right at the top by default.
Ability to hide annoying e-mails
Belong to an organization where colleagues just love CC'ing everyone into projects not related to them just "for your information?" And where everyone involved in the discussion simply hits the "Reply All" button, creating huge volumes of e-mails that interrupt you unnecessarily? Well, Outlook 2010 has a new "Ignore" button that automatically moves entire conversations onto the short road to your Deleted Items folder the moment they arrive.
Mail Tips consists of a series of prompts and warnings built into Outlook 2010 that attempt to issue alerts in situations where potentially undesirable actions are about to be executed. This might range from trying to do a "Reply All" when you were BCC'ed - hence revealing yourself, or creating an e-mail that exceeds size limits, for example.
Support for Multiple Exchange Accounts
For the first time, Outlook 2010 now comes with support for multiple Exchange accounts. I would be the first to admit that many users will obtain scant value in this; though power users who need access to more than one Exchange account will find this invaluable.
While I don't have any scientific way of measuring its performance, the overall feel is that Outlook 2010 performs faster than Outlook 2007. On top of overall faster performance, Microsoft claims that starts and exits are faster than Outlook 2007 too.
There are, of course, many other changes and tweaks found in Outlook 2010. Do feel free to share your favorite features here.