Last week, I
posted on how Google was boldly introducing features (acquired from
DocVerse) which might allow users to rely entirely on Office for their
productivity needs. Today Google
expanded their crush on Office to include a feature of Outlook by adding the
option to turn off threading / conversation view so that messages are sorted by
‘date’. Something Outlook has done since it ran on
DOS? Maybe they should just hit the ‘like’ button on our Facebook page?
Petition (for an Asterisk)
For years now,
Google has been saying ‘conversation view’ (threaded) was the best way to read email.
But apparently users petitioned for this feature so I can only imagine the
water cooler chat at the GooglePlex in Mountain View “people and their ‘stupid’
Such an approach is
not good for gaining lots of users. This
is likely why Gartner’s estimate for Gmail market share is at only 1%. Maybe someone will now start a petition for ‘GoneGoogle’
to get an asterisk?
Mission #1 – Help the User First
At Microsoft, we’ve
researched user behavior for years and realized not all people work the same
way. You have to build software that
delights users, helps them be creative, efficient and unique as they are. Building
this kind of software is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart and it takes
years of listening and evolving what you deliver.
The 1% Challenge
Google’s recent attempts
to be a software company in the workplace will challenge their culture.
Supporting more users means supporting more requirements. That leads to complexity of features which
the company appears to openly dismiss. They almost revel in uniformity and
simplicity, almost to a fault.
That’s why I’ve
found it so ironic that the more they preach Office has too many features, the
busier they get adding the features they just told you weren’t needed.
Supporting 1% of
your users has to be as important as the other 99%. Taking
away a feature used by 1% of Office users means impacting nearly 7Million
people. That’s 2.5 x the amount of
businesses claimed to have ‘Gone Google’.
Options are Good
With Outlook 2010/Outlook
Web Access we included the ability to have conversation view as one of several options. In fact, I think we improved how it visually
renders the messages compared to stacked index cards like Gmail. That’s
But we didn’t
abandon all the other views people use. In fact, we offer 12 different views
for your inbox, and people use each and every one of them. In addition to new
views like conversation, we added features like Clean Up, Mail Tips, Ignore,
Quick Steps all of which allow people to regain control of their inboxes. If
you want the best overview of these features, go check out the Outlook PM Team
Up with my Inbox”.