...we need to provide some useful guidance to Microsoft.
My problem is that like all "one-size-fits-all" products, Outlook is equally unusable by virtually anyone who tries to use it.
To me, the first question: Is Outlook an eMail client, or is it a Personal Information Manager? I can use Gmail if all I want is to send/receive/categorize mail. But, what I want is an integrated PIM: My eMail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks, all together in one common place, and integrated with each other. Why, for example, do I have to work so hard to put someone's eMail address in the "To:" field (click the field, open Contacts, search for the name...which is poorly implemented in the first place)? I should be able to start typing the user's name (say, last name first, or first name first, depending on your preference setting), and it should provide me with a number of entries, until I provide enough information to reduce it down to some small number (also configurable; say, 10), from which I can select my intended recipient(s) for that eMail. Why can't Calendar and Task documents be directly linked to the Contact(s) they include (if any), so I can see all my transactions centered around a particular person, all in one place, both past and future.
Think of the Real-Estate Broker trying to deal with multiple, on-going offers and bids and other questions. How is that stuff organized? It's organized by ADDRESS of the subject property. What makes it easier than to give the user a map to pick from, and--after they've got it all set up--the names of Buyers and Sellers associated with the address involved in the transaction? Then, link all the Tasks, Appointments, Buyers, Sellers and Others (lawyers, CPAs, etc.). And, provide a way to link to other documents, on- or off-line (e.g., draft contracts). THAT makes the customers' life easier, because all he/she thinks about every day are properties, uniquely identified by address. Click on the map of properties for which that broker has contracts (to sell, lease, rent or buy), and everything is available. In other words: Provide a platform for which experts in a field can build a user-oriented experience, without having to get all users to comply/conform to ideas spawned by some group of geeks writing the code for the product. These would become the "new apps" for Outlook, and another competitive market is built up.
The second question: Why does the GUI have to be so clumsy, so artificial, and so hard to customize? Give me a starting point for the GUI...maybe 10 possible templates from which to choose: "Friends and Family" and "Small Business" and "Enterprise" and "Smartphone". THEN, let me customize if I want.
The third question: Why do things have to have bizarre names known only to M$ and geeks? "File / Options" is an example...What the @#%&(& does Options have to do with File? Call it what it is: Personalization, and give me a place (out of the way, like a drop-down list in the right margin of the app) where I can go do that. Burying things under complex menus with bizarre names picked by geeks is not user-friendly. And don't get me started on the transmogrification of the common word "Ribbon."
If "Outlook" is the product name, in short, give real-live people in real-live situations the ability to apply a template (which can then be customized) to provide an up-to-the-minute status report, and to "peer" into (aka have an "outlook" on) the near future. It should work for Granny, with a far-flung network of offspring and friends (super-simple menu), and it should work for the CEO/Admin team, so they can work seamlessly together via computer, cloud or smartphone (separate menus for CEO and for Admin, each working on the same data.
Outlook is STILL stuck in the 2003 era, and my Outlook 2013 shows it. It's time for a radical re-think of what a useful tool, all-in-one (not in separate applications) Outlook COULD be, instead of just putting another coat of paint over the old girl and let her continue to look grotesque and work ineptly.