How to get rid of Outlook: the plan

I have decided to stop using Microsoft Outlook. No, I did not have any major issues with it, no horror stories of crashed, unreadable emails or viruses. As long as you use decent anti-virus (for example this one), switch off automatic loading of images and never do anything stupid such as clicking on an attachment or a link in email, you are reasonably safe. What got me to switch was lack of interoperability between anything non-Windows and Outlook and headaches of synchronization with on-line information. Using Outlook-only everywhere is not an option for me, because I need to use Mac as well as Windows and buying license of Outlook for every notebook, PC and virtual machine would be prohibitively expensive.

Decision is easy step, what is harder is to implement it. Outlook is (was for me) 4 different things

– email client
– contact manager
– to-do list manager
– calendar

I am lucky enough not be dependant on Exchange integration or on corporate shared calendaring solution, which is often one of the main reasons people are stuck with Outlook. Until recently, I also needed Outlook to keep my PocketPC synchronized with rest of the world. During few last month, I use my Toshiba e830 more and more are eReader device and less for actual information process, so this became less critical. Final blow came from unexpected angle – when I discovered the The Missing Sync. I can synchronize PocketPC on Mac, without needing the Outlook or even the Windows.

To completely avoid Outlook, I need to find reasonably good replacement for each of these 4 areas, so that the result is better, more open, location-agnostic and multi-platform. The result will probably less integrated than Outlook, but that’s reality of Web 2.0 versus desktop applications.

– For email, I have good solution in combination of GMail/Thunderbird (see yesterday entry).

– For calendar, I am evaluating Google Calendar.

– For ToDo’s, my current favorite is Remember The Milk.

– Right now, toughest part are contacts. Still working on this one.

I will cover these in the coming days. Stay tuned.

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