Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Outlook Sync for Google Apps

As we all know, it is not easy for user's to change their work habits. Outlook is the default email client for many of us. Getting used to a new email interface is sometimes too much to ask of your users.

Google have helped by releasing a very good tool to sync your Outlook 2003 and 2007 with Google Apps Email, Contacts and Calendar. This tool can be downloaded free and installed in a few minutes. It asks the user for their Google Apps email and password and then creates a user Outlook Profile automatically. Make sure you download all the patches for your Outlook first as SP2 is requried. It will not install until all the right patches have been applied.

It may take a little while for all email and contacts to Sync across, this will depend on how many messages you have. It does however work. I have experienced my PC slowing down a little as the sync tool runs but it is a small price to pay if you wish to continue to use Outlook.

Some of the advantages include:
  • integrations with desktop applications like CRM can continue if your integration was via Outlook for filing or sending emails

  • sending a fax from Outlook remains supported

  • Emails are NOT presented in conversation threads which some user's find difficult to get used to, I have mixed thoughts on this one

  • Sending an attachment out I find is easier if Outlook launches as Google Mail needs to attach the file rather than using say SEND from within the application

  • Google Apps limits your email POP accounts to 5 whereas Outlook it is unlimited to this is a workaround for those of you, like me, who have more than 5 POP accounts

  • Folders vs. labels is another point some users don't like. Outlook Sync will create labels automatically for any Outlook folder and vice versa. When a sub-folder is created the label will be named "folder/subfolder"

So moving your backend to Google provides small business many advantages, when remaining transparent to end users who can continue to use Google.