Outlook 2013 Interface Design (AKA The Great UX Disaster)

Outlook 2013 Interface Design (AKA The Great UX Disaster)

I recently updated to Outlook 2013, not because I was unhappy with Outlook 2010 but because I wanted to be able to view multiple mailboxes in a Combined Inbox view – my Android phone and Android tablet can do it natively, Microsoft ‘Built for use with Exchange’ Outlook should have been able to do this years ago.

The Kicker

It turns out I was misled.  After going through the process of uninstalling Office 2010 and installing Office 2013 (I couldn’t upgrade due to x84/x86 differences), I discovered that Outlook still doesn’t have a Combined Inbox option.

Diane Poremsky a Microsoft Outlook MVP has said here that:

 unfortunately Outlook’s architecture is limited (they are building on a 18 yr old product and need to maintain backwards compatibility), the mac version was new from the ground up so they could easy add it from the start

I’m afraid I just don’t buy that.  Its not like I want to install two versions of Outlook at the same time – this is a new product and as it was, it still had to perform an upgrade to my PST file to make it compatible with the new version.  If Android, OSX and iOS devices have this feature, Outlook should easily be able to cater for it.

Unfortunately, for the first time in a long time, I am going to uninstall Office 2013 and step back to Office 2010, purely to be rid of Outlook 2013’s appalling interface.

Outlook Folder Pane Scrollbar (the Peekaboo Bug)

I have literally hundreds of sub-folders in my Outlook folder pane and use them all regularly, I didn’t realise it but I take in the position of the scrollbar subconsciously so I know whether I need to scroll (and up or down) to get to what I need.  Microsoft has – for some baffling reason – decided that the scroll bar should hidden unless your cursor is in the folder pane.  Why?  It doesn’t improve the UI, doesn’t really add to the space in any meaningful way but costs time – admittedly only a couple of seconds – on something I do hundreds of times a day.

I had hoped that this would be fixable somewhere but apparently not, see the ‘Outlook 2013: Permanently Unhide Scroll Bar in Folder Pane?’ thread.

Outlook Search BoxOutlook 2013 Search Forgets Scope Repeatedly

I use the Outlook search feature a lot due to the sheer number of emails I receive per day.  A bug – or in Microsoft speak an ‘undocumented feature’ – that has been driving me crazy is that the scope of the search box reverts back to ‘Current Mailbox’ every time I return to the Inbox from another folder.  I almost always want to search the Inbox alone – not my entire mailbox and previous versions of Outlook default to this common sense behaviour.

The Crappy Office 365 Save Dialog Box

Office 365 Save As Dialog BoxAnother annoyance is that Microsoft have introduced another step every time I want to ‘Save As’ when saving a document, which I do frequently to keep readily accessible versions of documents.  Now if I click ‘Save As’, instead of the save dialog box popping up so I can just edit the name and hit save, I have to click ‘Browse’ (despite the fact that I don’t want to change the location) and then continue as before.

Not intuitive and an unnecessary step, all so that Microsoft can shove their ‘OneDrive’ option front and centre.

Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob McKay works at Perfect Image, is a father, programmer and a self confessed techie-geek type.

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2 comments on «Outlook 2013 Interface Design (AKA The Great UX Disaster)»

  1. C.B. says:

    Outlook 2013 Search Forgets Scope Repeatedly: File>Options>Search>Results>Include results only from: Current folder.

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Thanks Christopher, I found and enabled that option but seem to remember it had a knock on effect I didn’t like (not on my Office 2013 machine as I’m travelling but will check when I get back). I’ll update my entry to include the fix too.

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