Kent Compton

Software runs the world!

THE Outlook Connector

THE Outlook Connector

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In addition to the product planning I do for Windows Live, I also work with the Microsoft Office Outlook team on the Outlook Connector.  What is the Outlook Connector you ask?  It is a grossly underutilized sync solution for people who are both Hotmail users and who have Outlook 2003 or 2007.  If you’re interested in the technical details of what it does, take a look at, Omar’s blog (my coworker in Windows Live).  Basically, it syncs your Hotmail email, calendar, and contacts via a technology called DeltaSync (multiply the functionality of IMAP by 10x <g>).  

Sadly, doing a search in your favorite search for the words “sync Outlook with Hotmail” (no quotes) yields very few results (other than Omar’s) for the Outlook Connector, so I doubt many people can find it.  That’s a shame because I know from my research that people want to easily interchange work and personal items (mainly calendar and contacts).   The Outlook Connector makes that possible!   I use it on each of the 7 PCs I frequently use.  Its incredibly powerful.  If you receive an email to your work email account that is really personal when you reply you can change which account its sent from to be your Hotmail account.  With Outlook’s side by side calendar support (see link and picture below), you can drag an appointment from your work calendar on the left to your Hotmail Calendar on the right. 

Calendar side-by-side view

You can get the Outlook Connector from http://download.live.com.  If you install the entire Essentials suite and have Outlook on your PC it’ll be automatically installed.  You can also just pick the OLC if for some reason you didn’t want the rest of Windows Live Essentials.

Here’s my cheap way of increasing the likelihood that someone will be able to find this post:

sync, synchronization, Hotmail, Outlook, 2003, 2007, Exchange, e-mail, calendar, contacts, Microsoft 

:-)

Comments
  • Mr Compton

    My experience is very negative.

    I’m using Outlook Connector 14.0 to connect Hotmail with Outlook 2007. Outlook is open and connected to Hotmail for about 10 hours per day. About 5 to 10 times a day, a message from my Hotmail e-mail address which is titled “Synchronization Log:” appears in the Sync Issues folder of my Hotmail ‘mailbox’ in Outlook.

    As far as I can tell, Hotmail messages and folders in Outlook are being successfully synchronised with the Hotmail server. However, at least once, an e-mail I deleted in Outlook was not deleted on the Hotmail server (as viewed through the Web UI). I am also very concerned that the error messages indicate synchronisation problems which I may not immediately detect.)

    I’ve had a similar but worse problem with Outlook Connector 12.

    I’ve not had any success in getting help from Microsoft. My research indicates that many, many other users, have similar problems

    Unfortunately, I conclude that Hotmail Connector is not robust and I would not recommend it for use in the enterprise.

    I would be very grateful if you could tell me if you know whether Microsoft is aware of the extent of this problems, and, if so, has plans to address it?

    Best regards,

    Cian Buckley

  • I agree with Cian ... thank you for the post.

  • Cian,

    I'm sorry for the delayed response.  I wrote that post when I was at Microsoft but subsequently left the company to work for a Microsoft Partner.  As a result, I don't check this blog as often as I need to.  

    I know the OLC may seem less than perfect but I have found it is the best solution so far (I have no knowledge of future MS plans for it).  I know the product plannr for the OLC so it is a tool that gets on-going love from Microsoft.  I [not so secretly with this reply] hope that someday Hotmail will provide Outlook Anywhere support in a similar way that they have great support for Exchange ActiveSync.  

    I view the synchronization log in the same light as the parable Chicken Little--it crys wolf far too often when the underlying functionality is working fine.  In fact, I rarely check it because it's full of seemingly dire warnings that rarely, if ever, actually impact my productivity.  I have not had the failed deletion issues that you have experienced.  I use the OLC on no fewer than four PCs and it has been my experience that when a message doesn't appear deleted from another PC it is because the sync interval hasn't occurred yet.  I also throw a Windows Phone and it's 30 minutes sync interval into the mix just for good fun. :-)

    As much as it might occasionally seem so, there is very little that escapes Microsoft.  They have 90,000 employees who are just like you and I.  They push the software hard, provide candid feedback to the product group, and wait to see the results. Sometime a near term fix doesn't occur because of a long term strategy shift.  Sometimes other bug fixes have a higher priority.  Fortunately, 99.99% of the time issues do get resolved.  

    Happy computing!

    Sincerely,

    Kent

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