Outlook 2003 Beta

Thought I'd blog about my experience thus far with the beta.  As I wrote in an earlier entry, I upgraded to Outlook 2003 Beta some weeks ago.  The results have been largely positive, but I do have a few complaints.  Here's the rundown:

Best Features:

  • Junk Mail Support - It has yet to mis-classify a message as spam, and it has reduced my spam that I actually have to deal with by about 90 to 95% I'd say.  I get about 500 spams per day as a result of several aliases being published on popular websites.  With Outlook 2003, I get maybe 10-20 spams per day in my inbox.
  • Flagging - I really like the mult-colored flags for TODO items.  It would be cool if I could assign labels to the colors somewhere, so I know that red goes with ASPAlliance and blue goes with Family or whatever without me trying to remember that, though.
  • Message Rules - Setting up rules by simply right-clicking on a message is a breeze.  Very well done.

Missed Features:

  • Add to Address Book - why can't I right-click on a message and add the sender to my address book?  I have to drag the message into Contacts, which is less intuitive.  Also, why can't I right-click on an email in a message and add it to my contacts?
  • Newsreader - Is there a way to use Outlook for NNTP?  Not that I've found.
  • Share Calendar - Why can't I share my calendar with another Outlook user without MS Exchange Server being involved?  And no I'm not talking about just showing 'busy' times using the web.

Worst Features:

  • Recovery Time - Any time I shut down the computer unexpectedly, it takes a LONG time for Outlook to reload.  Like half an hour.  It says "The data file 'Personal Folders' was not closed properly.  The file is being checked for problems."  The next item exacerbates this issue.
  • Weird Video Bug - Every now and then, like once every other day or so, Outlook will flake out with some weird video behavior that consumes all of my CPU.  The video aspect of this behavior involves all text in Outlook -- it only displays the top half of the text.  The only solution to this I have found is to power cycle; the system hangs too much to allow me to shut things down any other way.  Naturally when this happens, I must then wait up to half an hour while Outlook checks my Personal Folders data file...

Ok, so that took me about 10 minutes or so to write.  Outlook has been recovering my personal folders that entire time, and claims to still have 15 minutes to go.  If nothing else, I guess I can say it is prompting me to blog more.  I really like it compared to OE -- just the junk mail and rule features make it worth it.  But the startup time and the recovery-from-improper-shutdown issues really suck; I hope they get fixed.  Admittedly I have a LOT of email (several years' worth of listserv discussions), but I have archived the older items and OE managed to do it with minimal delay (seconds for the largest folders), so I don't see why Outlook should choke on it so badly (being the enterprise, $$$ product).


(not listening to anything cuz Outlook is chewing up all my CPU)


  • "Newsreader - Is there a way to use Outlook for NNTP?" Not yet, as you know. However, the next version of NewsGator will include NNTP support for Outlook. This has been in beta for a while, and should be released sometime in the next couple of weeks.

  • HAve you got the Technical Refresh...(use Check For Updates in the help menu) - this improves it considerably.

  • Scott Galloway - Thanks for the tip! I just upgraded (130+mb update, wow) and although it hasn't crashed since then, it's only been about 15 minutes. Hopefully it will be a lot less flaky now.

  • The Tech refresh does solve a lot of probs.

    The best feature in my opninion is the search folders, I really like those.

  • Some IMAP servers, for example Cyrus, can be set up as a gateway to NNTP groups so one way to do this -- assuming Outlook 2003 supports IMAP -- is to use use such an IMAP server. For some details about this, see the Mulberry discussion group where this has been discussed (because Mulberry natively supports IMAP but not NNTP).

  • I have had the office 2003 beta sitting here for months. I am always timid about installing betas since I don't have any throw away machines. So Steven - are you using this on your dev machine? Do I dare?

  • Tim: The date grouping is nice, and one of my alltime fav features that I didn't remember when I posted this is the Unread Mail search folder. That is an awesome feature.

    Julie - I'm using it for my primary machine. It's stable enough... (save early, save often). It's saved me enough time messing with spam to make up for any of its flakiness in the last month and a half I've been using it.

  • I just installed outlook 2003 today and it looks great, I like the nice look of it, the way it display hte Email, like a real letter or memo, and yes I the way it groups the Email.

    The only thing am wondering about is am tried to Download the update and it says download time is 230 Min. this is damn long and am using LAN access to the net 256kb

  • You mention that you can't share your calendar without Exchange. Does that mean Net Folders are no longer available?

  • I guess you have the retail version by now? very sweet!

  • The "The Data File 'Personal Folders' has not been closed properly" bug still exists in the first release of Outlook 2003. This blog is the only direct reference I have yet found about this issue. Does nayone have any further information

  • I have the same problem where Outlook 2003. This is not only when I shut down unexpectedly, but virtually every time I turn the computer off. I have done the MS updates for Outlook but this has not since fixed the problem. I am seeking a resolution to this problem. Can anyone help???

  • I am still using Outlook 2002 and I have the "The data file..." bit nearly every time I restart Outlook -- and I ALWAYS shut it down properly. Any ideas how to fix this?

  • Our company is using OutlookXP, and two peeps JUST started getting the 'The data file Personal Folders was not closed properly' even tho Outlook was exited properly. Their PSTs are kinda big: 80mb-1g. I wonder if the beginning of this coincides w/ OfXP SP3? I only mention it here because this error is not unique to Out2003.

  • me too.

    About a month ago outlook crashed, when I clicked "yes" in response to the "send error report to microsoft?" question, it told me a new patch was available. Since I installed it I have been getting this error every time I start up regardless of whether I shut down outlook nicely or not.

  • forgot to add I now have outlook 2002 SP3

  • I have the "The data file was not close properly ..." error as well and I am using Outlook 2002. This error message has only been appearing for the last 30 days and is directly tied to when I did then last Microsoft Office Update, however, the problem existed before, it was just not as bad. I bet Microsoft added some extra checking to protect the data files.

    One thing I have noticed, when you exit Outlook it does not unload all of the time. I think this problem is tied to the occasions that Outlook does not unload. I have noticed that if you exit Outlook, wait for your hard drive to quite down and then re-enter Outlook and then exit again then Outlook will fully shutdown. You can monitor for this using the Task Manager, what for OUTLOOK.EXE instances in the Processes tab. There will be two of them for a while and then they will both disappear.

  • Has anyone found a fix for this problem?


    The data file 'Personal Folders' was not closed properly. The file is being checked for problems."


    I get this 99% of the time when outlook is not closed properly and about 80% of the time when I hit the X to close.

    I just do my best to remember to hit File, Close.

    ANY IDEAS????

  • Well incase no one mentioned...but I just started to also get this problem on a manager's box (laptop, XP, Office XP SP3) however I do have an Exchange server, which would mean that it is not confidend to a pst. I'm going to try deleting the OST though and see if that has any effect. I'll keep you all posted.

  • I've been getting the error sporadically since installing SP3 for Office XP this past week.

    Any insight from anyone yet?

  • I've also being getting this error on a few systems. We use Exchange Server 2000 and Outlook 2002. Seems to have started after loading SP3 also. Both users today have large mailboxes. So it's not just Outlook 2003.

    Please post any fixes that help the issue.

  • I feel like I just joined a support group. I have been getting this message (Outlook XP -- latest SP) for about the last month. I am a heavy user of e-mail and have quite a few saved messages. I've tried everything -- archieving, defragging, nothing works... AARRGGHH!!!!

  • Same problem, tried everything, got in touch with Microsoft, updated service packs, nothing seems to work.

  • Ditto. Installed Office SP3, and now Outlook complains EVERY time I attempt to access ANY/EVERY folder after I restart Outlook.

  • Are any of you guys using ActiveSync? If so it is possible that it is interfering, you may want to try and instll the latest version. It is said that after SP3 came out the older versions of ActiveSync caused problems with Office data files that it touched.

  • The only work-around I have found is to close Outlook and then delete the extend.dat file in the Outlook folder. This works most of the time, but is not 100%.

  • To report this to Microsoft (if enough do it, maybe they will listen), go to Microsoft.com, then to:

    Assistance > Outlook 2003 > E mail > Data Files

    It will give several data file problems, none of which is correct. At the bottom of the page, click no and send in a report.

  • It's been a month since the last post.

    Did anyone come up with a cause or solution for this problem?

  • I have been getting this meaaage for the last few months. I have tried several things to fix it without success including reporting it to M$. This is shocking! Clearly they are aware of it and they do nothing about it!

  • Yep me to, and i'm not using the Beta version. I resorted to archiving 90% of my mail so that the recovery time is less than a minute. You can still see all of the archived mail because an archived mail folder is viewable too. But the recovery time is reduced.

  • try this

    In Outlook click on Tools in the menu bar

    click on Options

    click on the Mail Setup tab

    click on the Send/Receive button

    click on the check box in front of the
    “Perform an automatic send and receive upon exiting” command

    click Close and Ok.....

    Let me know if you continue to receive the error message..

  • Deleting your add-ons in outlook can help with this problem. IIn MS outlook 2003, to to tools, options, other, COM add ons. Then remove everything in there.

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