Windows 10, Misery and Magic

Having been in this business 27 years gives me some experience.  But nothing in my experience matches what Microsoft is attempting; a free OS update for more than 500 million computers.

Do I have a prediction?  Can Microsoft handle the server load?  Will everyone be impressed but the support?  I don’t say so.  However, I will predict that whether Microsoft is successful or unsuccessful, we will all remember August 1, 2015 as the date that Windows changed the World, for better or worse.

What I’m anticipating is a combination of people successful in the Windows 10 transition, looking for help with the new OS and how to do things.  I also predict a certain percentage of failed updates.  Even a 1% failure rate means 5 million computers that no longer boot.  So I would predict that more PC hardware will be shipped in August 2015 than in any month of the last four years.

So many people, reinstalling apps, looking up licenses, switching to newer versions.

We also look with some interest at Microsoft’s “Phone Companion” software, which will “magically” keep everything in sync.  Since Windows 10 preview is out, and Phone Companion is not in it, I definitely think magic is what they need now.   I think it will be good for CompanionLink (thank you Microsoft for naming your feature) to continue to do what we do – simple and dependable phone sync.   There’s nothing they will introduce in two weeks that can match the features and dependability of CompanionLink and DejaOffice.

Demystifying the versions of Office Outlook for PCs, Phones, and Tablets

Microsoft is unleashing a bevy of names and editions of the next version of Microsoft Office Outlook. It’s hard to understand which version of Outlook you will need on PC, Mac, phones, and tablets.

Here are a list of known platforms on which the next version of Outlook will be available.

PC – desktops and laptops running Windows 10
Phones – iPhone, Android, Windows-based phones
Tablets – iPad, Android tablets
Special Tablets – Surface tablets, other tablets running Windows OS 10

Next, let’s list every brand name that Microsoft has used so far to describe the next version of Office Outlook.

Outlook 2016
Outlook for Mac 15
Outlook Mail for Windows 10
Mail for Windows 10
Windows 10 Mail app
Outlook for iOS
Outlook for Android
Outlook Web App for Office 365

Outlook 2016

This comes as part of the conventional Office productivity desktop suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) that we have used in the past. Outlook 2016 has a refreshed UI, tight OneDrive integration for cloud document management, and a machine-learning algorithm that learns how to “de-clutter” your inbox.

This suite is for people who want the full Outlook experience (Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, and Categories working seamlessly together) on their desktops and laptops like in years past. Pricing tiers are unannounced. Availability is Fall 2015 with no specific date yet.

Outlook for Mac 15 (aka: Outlook for Mac 2015, New Outlook for Mac)

This is the Office productivity suite for Mac users. It is designed to take advantage of Retina displays and Full Screen views available in modern Macs. Microsoft is promoting this version as a convergence in feature-set with the PC Office 2016. The prior version (Office for Mac 2011) took a public beating because it failed to do things that its PC counterpart could do.

Availability is scheduled for the second half of 2015.

Outlook Mail for Windows 10 (aka: Mail for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mail app)

This is a basic and feature-lite version of Outlook. It comes pre-installed on phones and tablets running Windows 10. These are Microsoft’s phones, Surface tablets, and other small tablets designed by other manufacturers that will support Windows 10. This lite version of Outlook gives you Mail and Calendar functionality. There are no Contacts, Tasks, or Notes in this feature-lite version. Support for Categories is unknown. The UI is streamlined when compared to Outlook 2016 for desktops. You can connect to EAS, Office 365, Gmail, and Yahoo accounts.

Here’s a video that shows the app.

Outlook for iOS (iPhone and iPad)

This app is available from iTunes App Store for free. It handles Mail, People (ie – contacts), and Calendar. People is limited to view-only data. This means you can search and view contact details of people in your address book, but you cannot add, edit, or delete records. There are no Categories or sort options.

Outlook for Android

This app is available from Google Play Store for free. Like its sibling iOS app, it handles Mail, People, and Calendar. People is view-only, no Categories, and no sort.

Outlook Web App (aka: OWA, OWA for Office 365)

This is the online version of Outlook that can be accessed from any desktop or mobile browser. If you have Office 365, you navigate to a web page to log in. If your organization used Exchange, they would provide you with a URL and credentials to log in to the Exchange Server.

The web interface handles Mail, Calendar, People, and Tasks. Categories and Notes do not work.

Microsoft also released native apps for iOS and Android called Outlook Web App. This was Microsoft’s recommended method to access Outlook on mobile devices prior to their recent native Outlook apps for iOS and Android. Page This ZDNet article claims Microsoft is planning to sunset these OWA apps in favor of the new Outlook apps for iOS and Android.

“…Microsoft plans to “sunset” Outlook Web Apps and the Outlook.com app for iOS and Android by summer, officials said.” (Source)

If you have heard of any other names used to describe the next Office Outlook, please share that with us in the Comments section.

New Outlook app is great for email, but not the full “Outlook” experience yet

This is a live document and we will update as we learn more about the new Outlook app.

Summary; TLDR

  • Hit: supports popular cloud email services and file storage
  • Hit: beautiful email UI for email, customizable swipe settings
  • Hit: intelligent “snooze” feature on email
  • Miss: does not support all business IMAP accounts like desktop Outlook does
    • February 16 app update adds support for generic IMAP accounts
  • Miss: no support for Outlook Contacts, Tasks, Notes
  • Miss: no Category support for PIM organization
  • Miss: major security hole by storing email credentials and data in a temporary server

The new Outlook app, a fruition of Microsoft’s acquisition of Acompli, brings renewed hope for Outlook users. The fresh UI and robust compatibility with the popular email services rightfully warrants the 4-star review Microsoft is currently earning. Contrast that to the 2.5-star showing of Microsoft’s prior horse in the race, the app regrettably known as OWA for iPhone.

However, the “Outlook” portion of the name of the app is a bit over-reaching. There are two main reasons for this.

  1. Outlook on the desktop does email, contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, and categories.  The Outlook app does email and calendar. Perhaps the rest is coming in short order.
  2. Outlook on the desktop allows you set up any IMAP or POP account. The Outlook app only allows EAS, Outlook.com, Google, Yahoo, and iCloud accounts. The rest of the business world that uses a private email provider with their desktop Outlook isn’t invited to the dance hosted by the new Outlook app. (Update 2/2015: an app update now allows you to add generic IMAP email accounts.)

no-imap2

outlook-no-imap

Hits

Email never felt this good. Acompli’s reputation prior to their acquisition was for a sexy email client that could blend all of your popular emails services into one app. Multi-account support works beautifully, and their Focused vs. All filters to put an emphasis on email productivity by showing important email and hiding newsletters and other repetitive communications for later viewing. Also, the ability to swipe to Schedule an email to reappear in the Inbox in a few hours or a time of your choosing lets you quickly consolidate your morning inbox so you address only important emails. A very nifty feature!

Misses

Security is the big hole for the Outlook app, as discovered by Rene Winkelmeyer. The hole has always existed when the code base was owned by Acompli. The ire is that people expected Microsoft to fix this security hole before releasing under the Outlook brand.

In short, email account credentials and data are stored on Microsoft’s servers for a “temporary” time frame. This allows the Outlook app to do fancy things like snooze email. However, it also means your email and potentially other PIM information like appointments and recent contacts are privy to Microsoft. I sense an ulcer developing for folks who care about corporate security, HIPAA, and other initiatives aimed at protecting our data.

The app also doesn’t match features found in desktop Outlook.

Contacts make a guest appearance through the limited functionality of the People section in the app. Instead of a real contact list, you are given a list of recently used email addresses. There is no contact manager that holds your records, and you cannot add/update contacts, address, and phone numbers from your device. This is likely due to the fact that email services like Google and Yahoo are not EAS servers. They rely on IMAP, whose protocol isn’t fundamentally designed to handle PIM info like Contact details. EAS, on the other hand, was designed for this. It’s surprising that even EAS accounts in the new Outlook app doesn’t handle Contacts.

Outlook Tasks do not exist. Many business users rely on a task list to coordinate their priorities or implement productivity systems like Getting Things Done or Franklin Covey. Without a task list, users of this Outlook app cannot manage their priorities on the go.

Outlook Notes also don’t make an appearance.

The must-have Outlook Category feature does not exist. Desktop Outlook users rely on categories to organize their daily agenda by appointment type. Without this, business and personal appointments are indistinguishable in the calendar view.

The Ultimate Outlook Sync for Santa’s Phone and Tablet

PRESS RELEASE BY COMPANIONLINK SOFTWARE, INC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Advanced features like category management that supports Outlook color-coding, handling of Outlook custom fields, and sort options for Outlook’s File-As field, offer a complete two-way sync utility with the most secure and direct sync options.

DejaOffice, the #1 independent Outlook sync app for Android® and iOS®, offers complete two-way synchronization for Microsoft® Outlook® calendar, tasks, notes, contacts, categories, and journal entries. It supports all the latest phones and tablets that Santa has delivered this holiday season.

Available for Android since 2008, DejaOffice is designed for Outlook power-users who cannot afford to shortcut support of key Outlook data. DejaOffice holds important Outlook contact details that are missing in the native Phone apps such as custom fields, multiple email addresses, and full contact notes. Advanced features like Private memos, Calendar templates, Location and Date pickers make DejaOffice uniquely convenient for people who want to integrate their mobile schedule with their PC Office.

“There is a huge gap between Desktop PC programs like Microsoft Outlook and the native phone list and calendar on Android and iOS devices,” says Wayland Bruns, CTO for CompanionLink Software.  “The DejaOffice App spans the gap and brings the Outlook contact, calendar, and task management experience to phones and tablets. Business professionals do not want a lite version of Outlook on their phones; they demand complete client information, notes and history of interactions, and desktop schedule management features on a mobile form factor.”

A visual tour of the many advanced Outlook features in DejaOffice can be found at www.dejaoffice.com/tour.html. DejaOffice is a free app on Google Play marketplace. CompanionLink’s synchronization software starts at $14.95 per user and can be found at www.companionlink.com/android/outlook. Reviewed by leading journals like USAToday.com and Forbes.com, CompanionLink’s apps have proven over time to be the most complete sync utility for those who demand the full Outlook experience on their Android.

CompanionLink cures Google Calendar Sync Error 2016

Multiple reports starting the afternoon of Monday, August 5 confirm the much-rumored demise of the Google Calendar Sync utility. People who were able to sync Monday morning report getting Error 2016 later in the day. It appears Google has left the building for MS Outlook Calendar sync for free Gmail accounts.

People are turning to 3rd-party apps to fill the void. The right app for you depends on which specifics you value and the total cost of ownership.

Some things to factor in your decision:

  • will one license purchase allow install on all of your PCs
    • CompanionLink allows install on 3 PCs
  • what are the support options (forum, email, phone, chat) in case you need help
    • CompanionLink offers phone and email support no cost
  • how long has the company been in business
    • CompanionLink has supported Google Calendar sync since 2006 and in business since 1988
  • is there a free trial
    • CompanionLink offers a free 14-day trial
  • is there a no-questions-asked refund policy
    • CompanionLink has a 90-day no-questions-asked policy
  • what is the software update policy
    • CompanionLink offers free software updates
  • what other fields are synced
    • CompanionLink sync Google calendar, categories, contacts, tasks, and contact photos
  • price
    • CompanionLink is $39.95 after discount code ALTGCS is applied

The most complete alternative to the sunset Google Calendar Sync utility

Multiple reports are in that Google Calendar Sync will become sunset on August 1, 2014. People are receiving an email from Google’s “The Calendar Team” as follows:

Important Announcement about Google Calendar Sync

Almost two years ago, we announced that we ended support for Google Calendar Sync. Starting on August 1, 2014, this app will no longer sync events between your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.

You can continue to access all of your Google Calendar events at calendar.google.com or on your mobile devices. Follow these instructions to uninstall Google Calendar Sync from your computer.

– The Calendar Team

Google’s notice appears to imply more than we are not going to support this product. It means the sync functionality may cease due to a change at the API level (programmatic). Google appears to be forcing a shut down of Calendar Event sync between Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar.

This gives existing users 20 days to scramble to find a solution. There are many on the market. Choose one that matches your needs for features, use on multiple PCs or in a household scenario, and technical support options. Don’t overlook the support options. Many business users don’t have time to post questions on forums and moderate answers. They want the ability to pick up the phone and talk to an expert to get answers and their Google integration working. Support is a valuable consideration to the business community.

CompanionLink for Google is our product that comes with free telephone support and handles two-way sync between Google Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Groups and Outlook contacts, calendar, tasks, and categories.  The product can also sync multiple Google Calendars to Outlook. Members of the same household can use one license, and business users can install the product on their home and work PCs. Updates are always free.

Gmail, Google, and all Google Apps accounts are supported. Outlook 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 2000 are supported. The product is available as a one-time license for $49.95. Enter ALTGCS on the order form and save $10 on your purchase. If you wish to purchase 20+ licenses for your organization, email us to get a volume purchase discount.

Here’s a full list of data CompanionLink synchronizes.

Calendar

  • Google Calendar syncs to Outlook Calendar
  • Full event details
  • Recurring and all-day events
  • Alarms/reminders
  • Accepted meeting invites (with attendee list)
  • Sync to multiple Outlook calendars (requires upgrade to CompanionLink Professional)

Contacts

  • Google Contacts syncs to Outlook Contacts
  • Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses
  • Google Groups sync to Outlook Categories
  • Contact notes
  • Birthdays
  • Contact photos
  • Up to 9 custom fields in Outlook

Tasks

  • Outlook Tasks sync to Google Tasks or Google Calendar (you choose)
  • Task priorities
  • Recurring tasks
  • Due dates

Groups/Categories

  • Google Groups sync to Outlook Categories

Sync to People and Calendar apps in Microsoft Office Online

Microsoft rebranded their online Office app suite as Office Online. It was previously the product known as Office Web Apps. They introduced a new home page with tiles of the apps you have access to online – People, Calendar, Email, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and the new OneDrive document and file storage service.

This rebranding does not change CompanionLink’s two-way sync with the People and Calendar apps for Office 365, Outlook.com, and Office Online accounts. The only difference is that People and Calendar are now accessible tiles in the Office Online interface.

Sync to People and Calendar apps in Office Online

Connect Outlook 2010, 2007, and 2003 with Office 365 and Office Online

For people running desktop MS Outlook 2010 and prior, CompanionLink offers the missing connection to Office Online and Office 365 accounts. These versions of Outlook have no way to automatically integrate desktop contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes with Microsoft’s cloud. CompanionLink for Outlook is a plug-in that automates the integration between Microsoft’s cloud and Outlook 2010, 2007, and 2003. Here is a setup guide that shows you how to configure PC Outlook to Office Online and Office 365.

CompanionLink syncs to People and Calendar apps in Office Online

USATODAY.com review votes DejaOffice and CompanionLink as best Android Sync app for Outlook

We are thrilled to share a raving review about our Android Sync products. Marc Saltzman, writer for USATODAY.com, stumbled upon CompanionLink when his frustration with other Android to Outlook sync solutions came to a peak. He found other products to sync incomplete Outlook data or have complicated setups.

Then, he found our Android Outlook app, DejaOffice.

“DejaOffice was able to accomplish what others could not: smooth, reliable and quick syncing between Android and Microsoft Outlook.”

“You don’t need a degree in computer engineering to set it up.”

Marc hits squarely on a sensitive topic for people who used legacy phones and PDAs like BlackBerry and Palm. Traditionally, Outlook sync was an afterthought for mobile users because Outlook integration was bundled with their device purchase. Palm shipped a CD with Outlook sync software. BlackBerry included their reliable Desktop Software companion with every device.

Android buyers weren’t so lucky. During Android’s toddler years, no manufacturer bundled software for Outlook integration. Samsung, for example, has since developed a tool called Kies to address the uproar by Outlook users. However, upkeep of the tool has proved difficult and fragmented as Kies updates often break Outlook integration. The reliability of these tools also vary from device to device and are inconsistent with the Outlook fields they support because every device has different pre-installed PIM apps.

The CompanionLink and DejaOffice platform for Android really shines because it works and looks the same across all Android devices and restores reliable Outlook integration that people expect to come with their device. People are free to choose the security of USB connected synchronization or the flexibility of Cloud synchronization through CompanionLink’s secure DejaCloud service, Google or other cloud services. This allows people to customize their experience to their business requirements; something that isn’t possible with solutions like Kies.

Marc’s review emotes the frustration millions of Outlook users face when they realize their $300 phone investment doesn’t integrate easily with desktop Outlook. CompanionLink agrees that reliable Outlook synchronization should come in-the-box with your phone purchase. Until then, CompanionLink has a product that millions, like Marc, can use to turn their $300 investment into a productivity tool that works with Outlook.

Newkia can thrive by filling the business feature void on smartphones and tablets

Newkia, the new Singapore-based endeavor with plans to siphon Nokia’s Finnish talent to build Android devices, has its heart in the right place. Had Nokia heeded popular advice and supported Android OS, they would probably still be around as a company that builds phones. They chose to become the near-exclusive manufacturer of Windows Phone, a decision that earned Nokia’s C-brass a fortune in the Microsoft acquisition while thousands of employees and avid followers were stranded. Not to mention the hit on the economy in Finland (here’s another great article on that topic).

Smartphones are remarkably dumb with business functionality

CompanionLink has long championed the message for the need for a smartphone with business features. We even built our own business-focused mobile app because we saw this gap. Android and iPhone operate exceedingly well with video, social media, and web browsing. But they lack advanced functionality that business users relied on with legacy Palm Treo devices. For example: an address book that shows more than 8 contacts per screen; a notes app that intelligently links to people in the address book; a task manager that fits productivity philosophies like Getting Things Done and Franklin Covey; and full integration with PC apps like Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes where business people spend 50% of their day.

OPPORTUNITY ALERT FOR NEWKIA: build business productivity into the fabric of your product roadmap. If you need help with this when building your PIM applications, please call us. We’d love to help.

Business users held tremendous hope that Palm webOS would fill this void. The first Palm organization defined mobile productivity. When that failed, business people refocused their hopes on BlackBerry 10. Q3/2013 sales showed BlackBerry sold more legacy devices than phones running on the new OS 10 platform. Yikes!  The Address Book, Calendar and Apple-inspired Remember apps weren’t anything like what business users expected from their BlackBerry.

Newkia appears to have taken a giant leap in the right direction by acquiring a CEO,  Urpo Karjalainen, who understands the business of mobile business.  Mr. Karjalainen served as BlackBerry’s head of business operations for Asia and worked another 20 years at Nokia.

Why CompanionLink is the perfect alternative for Kies 3 problems

User reports (here and here, for example) outline the Kies 3 problems when synchronizing Microsoft Outlook with Note 3, Nexus 5, Galaxy S4, and Android 4.4 and Android 4.3 devices.  This thread reports the Outlook Calendar and Contacts synchronization tab is entirely missing in Kies 3.

“I want to let you know how great your product is and how you bailed out Samsung! The KIES software that comes with Samsung devices not only does not work, it corrupted my Outlook files. If are serious about managing your business contact database, CompanionLink is the only solution.”

Cary Chavet

The Kies home page on Samsung’s US website has no mention of Outlook Calendar or Tasks. It is unclear if this means Kies no longer supports Outlook Calendar and Tasks sync, or if this is an oversight by the marketing of website team.

CompanionLink is a great Kies alternative because it synchronizes more Outlook fields like Outlook Notes, Tasks, Journal, Birthdays, and Meeting Invites, and supports Outlook Categories with matching colors. You can also work with multiple Outlook Calendar and Contacts Folders.

CompanionLink lets you choose how to sync – USB, WiFi, or automatic Cloud sync.

CompanionLink is backed by US-based telephone support at no cost. CompanionLink never pushes updates on their customers, so the software you purchase is guaranteed to be the same unless you change it.

Read more about CompanionLink for Outlook here. A full license costs $49.95, one-time. Enter code K3ALT in the Affinity Code field on our order form to save $10.