After you install Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2, you’ll see a new icon in the taskbar when Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 is shut down. The grey Outlook icon, shown in Figure 1, is a visual indicator that the outlook.exe process is still running on the system. Historically, Outlook has given consideration to third party add-ons when initiating a shut down. Essentially, Outlook would suspend shutdown while add-ons or out-of-process applications were still maintaining references to Outlook resources. Sometimes, this state would persist to the point where the user would finally choose to end the outlook.exe process using Task Manager. Restarting Outlook prior to the outlook.exe process ending would create a new outlook.exe process that could not access any Outlook resources (which were still locked by the outlook.exe thread still trying to shut down). Forcing Outlook to close using Task Manager increases the chance of PST/OST corruption.

With Service Pack 2, Microsoft has improved the user experience when shutting down Outlook 2007. Outlook will no longer give third-party solutions all the time they need to release any references before shutting down. Some third party add-ons may require some re-coding to adhere to this new shutdown strategy. This long-awaited change is in direct response to feedback from Outlook users over the last 10 years. The Outlook icon in the taskbar automatically disappears when the outlook.exe process is successfully terminated. The user can then power down their system as needed with the confidence that they are not cutting off Outlook as they do so. Administrators may even document that users need only wait for the Outlook icon to disappear from the taskbar before they close their laptop or power down their workstations.

This improvement in the Outlook user experience first appeared in the cumulative update released by Microsoft in February (Microsoft Knowledge Base articles 961752 and 967688); however, the fix is bundled into Office 2007 Service Pack 2 as well.