back to article Microsoft uncorks Outlook, world goes .pst

Microsoft is opening up the data format that underpins Outlook. With a Monday morning blog post, the company announced it's now very interested in Outlook data moving among third-party applications. "Data portability has become an increasing need for our customers and partners as more information is stored and shared in digital …

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FAIL

Welcome to the 21st Century

"Data portability has become an increasing need for our customers and partners as more information is stored and shared in digital formats," wrote Paul Lorimer.

That statement wouldn't have been hysterically funny if he'd said it 10 years ago. Saying it today though? After the whole OpenOffice/OfficeOpen XML fiasco of the last 3 years just reeks of foot dragging. Gee, back when you were supposedly opening up one member of your bloatware office suite it didn't occur to you to apply that strategy across the whole product line?

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Alert

AsFor The Arrival Date ...

of this pst documentation, I predict it will be just 2 weeks before Office 2012 ships with an enhanced and incompatible format.

<= The error dialog you can expect when you try extracting data.

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Stop

Been there, done that.

"One day, your data will roam free"

In the UK, it already does; thanks to various organisations that couldn't stop a toddler from getting into a biscuit jar.

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MS lost the knack...

The signs are telling. Once they would just have stolen whatever idea looked good, and force-fed it to the world as if it was theirs. Now they're begging for people to provide them with ready-made code for their crappy software. Quite telling. Especially after the Vista and Vista Twodotow episodes: when a software maker with bottomless pockets, backed by the "Most Powerful Government on Earth", decides it's time for a new start with a fresh new codebase, you think "behold, it's the return of the Mean Lean Coding Machine". When they miserably fail to deliver and have to hack together a few gadgets on an old codebase in a hurry, then 4 years later *still* don't deliver a new codebase, something smells fishy. If I'm not mistaken, Windows7 is still Server2003 at heart... that wouldn't be a problem in itself -you could even say that letting the server team design something reliable, then having the desktop team sprinkle the shiny stuff on it, is far from stupid- , it's just a big miss on the "fresh new codebase" front. Especially as it means that the desktop version lags behind the server one, not a terribly good thing when you make most of your money out of the desktop market. MS has a hell of a momentum, and very deep pockets indeed, so they might get out of it with minimal damage, but they'll have to put their act together rather fast... more than two years after the release of Office2007, most major publishers and conferences in my field still don't accept their new file format, even in the US. When was the last time this happened to MS? Next thing you know everyone will accept ODF files. PDFs for presentations, even (one can dream).

Something is rotten in the state of Redmond, indeed. And the king's buffoon (or is it Buffoon King?) is not even dead yet. May that be the problem?

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Anonymous Coward

If you don't want to wait for MS...

you could try libpst and libpff

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Troll

@ Eddie Johnson

"Gee, back when you were supposedly opening up one member of your bloatware office suite it didn't occur to you to apply that strategy across the whole product line?"

As much as I agree with you on the principle, there's a little technicality that might have played a role here: The so-called "MSOffice suite" is actually a bundle, not a suite. Deep down, the file formats are actually not fully compatible. That's even still true with OfficeOpenXML. There are still a number of -basic- tags that are not compatible across the, erm, "suite". If you want a suite, try OpenOffice (that won't solve the bloat issue, though. Bloody bloated OpenOffice. And you will need Java. Bleuargh. But that makes it kinda cross-platform). Or you could try the Gnome Office "suite" (Abiword, Gnumeric, Evince, Evolution; but then you're stuck with PDF as an cross-platform interchange format for onscreen presentations, and that won't cut the mustard in today's world. Plus, it's not really an integrated suite either).

My favourite mix is currently Evolution [1], Gnumeric [2], OOImpress [3], and OOWriter [4].

Of course, whenever it's down to paper -or ps/pdf- output, I use good software instead... because let's get real, all WYSIWYG/point'n'click desktop apps are crap anyway.

How do yo like my purple hairdo?

[1] the Outlook that doesn't suck -matter of taste. Some might like security holes.

[2] the Excel/OOCalc that doesn't suck -well, not as much as Excel or OOCalc, at least.

[3] sometimes you just *have* to get a .ppt input/output workflow. Life sucks.

[4] sometimes you just *have* to get a .doc i/o workflow. Life sucks (bis). And OOwriter has better compat with word2007 than word2003. I kid you not. On one of my machines I am running both word2003 and OOWriter; any word2007 .doc document that features comments or tracked corrections is virtually illegible in word2003, yet displays fine in OOWriter. Docx documents cannot be opened (natively) by word2003, yet you can open them in OOWriter (the comments and modifications might be a bit messed up, but it's still good enough for emergency NIH grant submission!).

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Recently?

MS clearly use the word "recently" because they are talking in the sense of the age of the universe... People have been asking about data in PST files for about 12 years!

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Pint

Available Free!

As in beer. Over £2.80 a pint in my part of the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

MS offers the world Outlook data

and the world says - So f**king what?

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Thumb Up

Evolution?

Finally us basement dwelling, beard strokers might get a decent Evolution plugin for Exchange! Not having to go through that web-fronted abomination that is OWA!

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Stop

Prediction...

The open .pst formats will be introduced as a new format with MS Outlook 2010. They'll be more bloated than the existing format, perhaps even named ".pstx" and will be exceedingly heavily MS Outlook orientated with obscure functionality defined as "handle like MS Word handles it". Asides from this, from an business point of view, allowing users to have local .pst files is suicidal compared to using .ost files and providing a level of data protection.

They'd do better to implement a working, sane, open communication protocol for MS Exchange server, but that would open up competition in the mail client / calendar / organiser client and MS would have to actually do some work on Outlook rather than just sticking a different skin on top of identical bugs.

This said, a good, new MS Exchange server version that is accountable, stores data in something other than an enormous amorphous blob pseudo database and actually includes the features that every other mail server includes as standard would give people a REAL reason to buy it and install it rather than just the usual locked-in-to-a-single-supplier "justification".

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Erm.....

Don't they already have this documented already, so they can, like, make Outlook work?

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Coffee/keyboard

Standards and Specifications for Outlook v1.00.70.643 Format Data [effective 1994.02]

@ElReg!comments!Pierre

True. We actually use OO and I wish they would slow the bloat.

@Bilgepipe

Yes they already have documentation but its in a readable form. They have to run it thru the obfuscator and bloat it out to 1000+ pages of contradictions before releasing it publicly.

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Terminator

In a Word, NO

bilgepipe asks:

"Don't they already have this documented already, so they can, like, make Outlook work?"

Fubar

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Anonymous Coward

@ Bilgepipe

"Don't they already have this documented already, so they can, like, make Outlook work?"

You have obviously avoided most software making companies in your life, documentation? What's that?

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Microsoft...

uncorks Outlook, world GETS .pst

Shurely?

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Anonymous Coward

Frankly, My Dear. I don't Give A Damn

Never used it (is that a record?); never will.

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Gold badge

@Bilgepipe

Further to Eddie Johnson's remark... Specifically, they have the source code. This is machine readable (and even executable) and definitely correct. Producing "a long essay on the subject that probably isn't accurate because it was ported to a language full of ambiguity (English) by someone who doesn't actually understand the original" will take a little longer.

And on the wider topic of documentation standard amongst software companies, there's a perfectly sound argument that the source code *should* be undocumented. An informal and non-executable representation is fine for broad-brush stuff, but by the time you reach the level of code it is inappropriate. You should spend the time making sure that the code is readable by both people and compilers.

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Gates Horns

libpst

I've already used some libpst tool 4 years ago. Since then all my data are free from M$, thanks to truly open mbox/Maildir formats.

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Joke

No it means that

the World has gone "postal". .PST is the file type. It's a play on words.

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Dead Vulture

less than unimportant

locally hosted email supported by 3-4 hopeless, semi-educated, everage intelligence guys in a room at the back of the office is just going to dissapear, and fast.

if google can apply world-beating spam filtering to millions, why tolerate 'reverse dns look up' bounces'and similar such unforgivable spamliter crap (that the ordinary tech team cannot support anyway).

we have 270 employees and moved to gmail, and subsequently cracked open champers one friday a few weeks later. user satisfaction and up time went through the roof.

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Big Brother

pst - exchange

Outlook is a hog. But no suite/software (repeat: nothing) can currently duplicate its all-encompassing functionality. You might not need all the bells and whistles. Nobody does. But this gargantuan piece of code does deliver, point by cumbersome salesman point. All else aside, it is a monument to base-covering.

The Microsoft (TM) badge has its stigma, being Microsoft. But Outlook and Exchange have enough bullet points to exist for a bit more.

I do not trust Microsoft, oh no. But I trust the cloud even less, even if carried aloft by a company that is supposed to "do no evil". Yeah right. Good intentions, snake oil.

Knowledge is power. Data is important. Cloud is evil. Trusting it is stupid. Keep it local, keep it simple. Make a backup.

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@ AC 08:29GMT about Evolution Exchange plugin

"Finally us basement dwelling, beard strokers might get a decent Evolution plugin for Exchange! Not having to go through that web-fronted abomination that is OWA!"

As much as I agree with you view on OWA, I must point out that I used the Exchange plugin in Evolution for quite a while (our 4th-floor-dwelling MS-worshipping gnomes recently got a clue and added a standard IMAP interface. so I obviously don't use the Exchange plugin anymore). It is far from perfect, but it kinda works already. Quite decently, I would say. Of course it depends on your definition of "decent". If "decent" means "flawless", then I guess you're right, but if "decent" means "gets the job done at the price of some fiddling", nothing new on my radar.

And who told you about my beard-stroking habit?

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