Paul Thurrott’s Review of Office 2007 Beta 2

Paul wrote a great review of Office 2007 Beta 2 at his Windows Supersite. The second part of the article focuses in on Outlook 2007, and I'll quote directly from the site as Paul talks about some of the features that are near and dear to my heart…

Instant Search

"In my Word 2007 Beta 2 review, I bemoaned the fact that Microsoft wasn't adopting inline search. Well, in Outlook 2007, they are: A new instant search box appears front-and-center at the top of the Inbox pane (as I'll call this second pane in its default view). This instant search box replaces both the horribly week Find and slightly-better but hard-to-find Advanced Find functionality from previous Outlook versions (though, oddly, they're both still available). Good riddance, I say.

Instant search is truly instant, using what Microsoft calls "word wheeling" to search as you type. Instant search is also context specific. That means that the search query you type will search the current email view by default, but you can expand the search to include any and all email folders very easily. Search results, naturally, replace the default Inbox view in the second pane.

I've found instant search to be one of my absolute favorite new features in Outlook 2007, and while it would be easy to wonder aloud why it took so long, let's just be happy it's finally there: With the proliferation of personal information and email we must now manage, this is a must-have feature."

RSS integration

"There's an ongoing debate about where users should consume information published to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. One obvious outlet is your Web browser, because that's where people tend to read Internet-based information now, and not surprisingly, Internet Explorer 7 (see my Beta 3 review) does offer this functionality. However, information published via RSS is pushed out to users, sort of like email, so some argue that you should use an email application to consume RSS-based information. Too, each post from an RSS feeds is conceptually similar to an email message. To satisfy this latter crowd, Microsoft is adding RSS support to Outlook 2007.

The smart thing here is that both IE 7 and Outlook 2007 will use the same RSS engine and data store. So if you're using both products, you can subscribe to a feed in IE 7 and view the feed posts in Outlook 2007 (or vice versa). The back-end data store is the same.

In Outlook 2007, RSS feeds are available via a new RSS Subscriptions node in the tree view that appears below All Mail Items in the Navigation pane (it's at the same level as Inbox, incidentally). You view RSS posts just like you do email, using Outlook's familiar Reading Pane. And because RSS feeds are pushed to you, like email, Outlook will continually ping your subscribed feeds and download new content as needed.

If you're curious about my take on RSS and where it should be consumed, I utilize a hybrid approach. Outlook is absolutely the right place to manage and view feeds. But since many RSS feeds only publish a small portion of each post, you'll often find yourself clicking on a link to view the rest. Those links, of course, open IE 7 (or your browser of choice)."

Thanks Paul for taking the time to really think through the implementation of the features and highlighting some of the big wins they offer our users.