Simplicity Rocks!

For many years the software industry continuously added features to increase the competitiveness of the products and increase efficiency and productivity of the users. I've always opposed against this, because it might be good for the power user, but ignores the casual user.

For me the best example has always been Microsoft Outlook that over the years added so many features that I completely stopped using it. These feature are for sure great for a power user, but they just didn't add any value to me. I moved to Outlook Web Access and I price myself lucky that my employer still uses Exchange 2003 that has an extremely simple version of Web Access when using a different browser than Internet Explorer. I love this, because just simply a list as your inbox and a simple click to see the email and for your calendar exactly the same.

When Office 2010 was released I was very hesitant to upgrade, especially all I ever use is PowerPoint and I would rather prefer a proper cloud based presentation tool than get another heavy client application. However I'm always curious and as a valued Microsoft partner I did the upgrade. It went less smooth than expected, but after the upgrade hassles I curiously looked into Outlook. At first I was scared off by the bloat on my screen, I counted to three and started to turn of features. It took some time, but the result is great, an extremely simple email application that does exactly what I needs and almost nothing too much.

Below I'll show you some of the screenshot and instructions on how to clean up your Outlook.


In the quick access menu you can now simply create a new message and/or appointment

A new message is again very simple


.. and the same for an appointment


I've used this for a while and I really appreciated the simplicity so I can really focus on what is important.  It however doesn't mean I will abandon Web Access, because the browser is for me still the desktop.

Have you modified the way Outlook behaves for you?

3 comments

Simplicity is powerful, actually. Your description of turning off features (in Outllook) until it simply did only what you wanted is a good example. Personally not familiar with that software, but as you simplified the interface for YOUR use it became more powerful to accomplish YOUR work efficiently.

This syndrome does not seem limited to software. Cellphones and other electronic devices occasionally suffers this 'feature bloat' at upgrades (think: TV remote controls). In my opinion, at some point of the product's useful range, a competitive advantage might be realized if the thing just took very little user effort and worked well -- simple

!!

Aad,

Yes, I did the upgrade 2 weeks ago and had not look to this yet. But based on your blog i have also removed a lot from the interface. Thanks for the tip.

Gr. Andre

Great that new features Redmond added allows taking away features Redmond added earlier.

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