Microsoft’s latest update for Office 2011 is great, some really significant improvements for Outlook especially. Yes, there are improvements for Word and PowerPoint and some bits and pieces for all apps in terms of improved document handling and Lion features, for me Outlook is the biggy.
For me it was the Outlook stuff that made me pay attention. In the organisation I work for, we’ve been having terrible trouble with Outlook wanting to do database rebuilds at every opportunity and then when it does, it will pretty reliably duplicate either contacts or calendar entries. We’ve been caning our DPM server doing multiple mailbox restores! Recently we’ve simply been using a piece of freeware to remove duplicates in a Windows based outlook profile instead.
All that aside, back to the update, the headlines are:
The database and the rebuild utility are improved
As mentioned above, this ha been a real issue for us, not only wasting user time, but also admin time. Time will tell if things are vastly improved, but I thought it was worthwhile to comment on the upgrade process itself. It’s pretty lengthy, when you complete the install of the patch and load outlook for the first time it will prompt you to select which profile you would like to upgrade. This is also good news as you might want to leave a backed up profile alone. One you start the process, it is pretty length and is of course entirely dependant on the size of your mailbox. Be prepared to give up some time to it, you can NOT cancel it once it’s started.
IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronising with Gmail is improved.
Not tried this as yet, but as a lot of organisations fall in love with the Cloud, reliance on Gmail will inevitably increase.
Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved.
So far so good! My Outlook session has been grinding to a halt more and more lately, and since the install I’ve noted a vast improvement in reaction speed and in opening mail items.
Exchange email message sync is improved.
We’ve got a lot of people who are connecting via wifi and 3G, and although that is normally ok, when you’re on the edge of coverage, or something like Edge (E) or HSDPA (H) or GPRS (G) then you can really struggle. Being able to pull just headers and also pull the message in parts is great for poor bandwidth areas
Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved
The scheduling area in the calendar is vastly improved, a picture tells a thousand words, so here’s what it now looks like.
Week numbers are added to the calendar display.
AGain this is configurable, so you can put the week numbers into the Calendar view. It’s not a huge one for me, but I can see how that will be a vast improvement for some people.
Distribution list expansion functionality is included.
A real user improvement, our organisation uses loads of distribution lists and mail enabled security groups, and our users have been used to being able to check membership or alternatively be able to expand a group to remove 1 person (say when it’s about a birthday treat or something)
Some of the other bits I liked were the improved 2 line ‘Toast’ email alert, you get a wee bit more info now to make you decision on whether or not to read.
I’ve always relied on JetStress to gain confidence in any new Exchange infrastructure I build. It gives you good loading feedback and is great for benchmarking disk I/O and IOPS.
According to the Exchange Team, the highlights are:
Updated for version 14.01.225.017 of Jetstress
Added Exchange Server 2003 instructions
Added more troubleshooting information
Added guidance for running Jetstress on a production Exchange Server
Included guidance for testing Raid Arrays
Included information and guidance on Background Database Maintenance
General corrections and clarity improvements
If you’re building or are about to build an Exchange setup, it’ worth a good read. Use it.
SP1 for Office 2011 was released on the 12th April(12/04/2011), today was my first moment to give it a look over.
The main thing I was after was the addition of Exchange server side rule manipulation. I’ve had a few questions about this from fellow members of staff, they adopted Outlook for Mac to replace Entourage or Mail.App etc and have had to keep a Windows Outlook session on hand to manipulate rules.
I went straight to the rules section, and got this:
Looks like I’ll jhave to press on with that Exchange 2010 upgrade! 1 step forward, 2 back.
Another addition is the ability to resend a mail, so far it was a faff, having to either forward/reply your mail and edit the content and subject line accordingly to make it look like a fresh mail. The ‘Resend’ option is now available on the Message menu and the right-click context menu.
I’ve not paid too much attention to what is updated in Word, Powerpoint and Excel, I’m a pretty basic user of them all, so long as spell check and SUM work, I’m pretty covered .
I take a lot of ribbing in the office about my over cautious attitude towards Microsoft service packs/roll ups etc. I think they are valuable enhancements to operating systems etc, they fix problems and enhance features, BUT they can also be dangerous.
There was once an LCS 2005 client patch, which then wouldn’t allow connections to the server, imagine the red face explaining that one to the boss, and the fix took a while to come out!
Very recently there was this:
The bad: http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2011/03/29/potential-for-database-corruption-as-a-result-of-installing-exchange-2007-sp3-ru3.aspx
The sorry: http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2011/03/30/exchange-2007-2010-rollup-3-status-update.aspx
The fix: http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2011/03/31/announcing-the-re-release-of-exchange-2007-service-pack-3-update-rollup-3-v2.aspx
I’m NOT having a pop at the Exchange Dev boys and girls, far from it, they deserve kudos for holding up their hands and sorting out the problem. All credit to them for their approach and honesty.
So….. why do I stay behind the service pack bleeding edge….
It’s not often I’ll just post a link to someone elses article, well, not for the sake of it. However this is one worth reading, it’s clear and concise and if you have a cluster on your hands it makes it all worthwhile.
Take a read, it’s a great site.