You probably know by now that Microsoft has released Office 2007 SP1. This service pack, released December 11, 2007, contains 455 fixes for Office 2007 and increases the Office 2007 build version to 12.0.6212.100. For Outlook 2007, SP1 includes 104 fixes. Let's take a look at the most important changes you'll find in Outlook 2007 SP1. As usual, SP1 includes all the latest security updates, so you don't need to download them separately when installing Outlook 2007 SP1 on a new machine.

One of the biggest areas of improvement for SP1 is definitely performance. Microsoft received many complaints from professional users about sluggish performance and occasional freezes in Outlook 2007. SP1 was targeted to fix these problems: You'll see a big difference in performance, especially when you're working with large OST or PST files (2GB or more), and it removes the frustrating delays when switching to folders that contain many messages. In addition, a bug where Outlook 2007 hung when large groups of messages were moved from one store to another has been fixed.

The performance of Outlook 2007 and POP3 has also been improved. Problems with short freezes after downloading a POP3 batch and slow POP3 syncs have been addressed. I'm not saying these problems have been perfectly solved, but delays you experienced before SP1 have been reduced dramatically.

The second major area of changes for Outlook 2007 can be called stability enhancements or software bug fixes. Most of the worst bugs were fixed in SP1. Just to provide you with a few examples, the following problems have been fixed:

  • After copying or moving items from an OST to a PST, the item isn't displayed in the reading pane when you select it in the PST file.
  • When a user is added to a conference room in a different forest, the user isn't able to open the conference room mailbox.
  • If a meeting is updated by the meeting organizer while you have the meeting open, the meeting disappears or displays the wrong time in your calendar after you accept the update.
  • If you open a new message, click Save, then attach a file, the attached file might not appear in the message even if you saved it another time.

Outlook 2007 SP1 also improves the RSS feature. Microsoft stated that the number one customer complaint with RSS was that it downloaded duplicate items. This problem has been addressed, so you shouldn't see a large number of duplicates anymore. Another problem was that when you subscribed to an Atom feed on the new version of Blogger, it showed all previous items with a date of 1/1/2006; this, too, has been solved. (Funny—I discovered this problem when I was looking for SP1 changes in my RSS folder!) Of course, RSS performance has also been improved with quicker change lookups and faster item downloads, and your performance will be even better if you keep your Outlook RSS feeds synchronized to the Common Feed List managed by Internet Explorer 7.0.

The last area of improvement I want to consider here is that of SharePoint synchronization. A problem that I mentioned in my August 2007 column, "Shared Calendars with SharePoint and Outlook 2007," has been fixed: You're now able to create a meeting request when the SharePoint Calendar is active in Outlook. Outlook asks you to confirm, but it won't fail as it did before SP1. Also, the SharePoint synchronization logic has been improved to reduce duplicate item replication during syncs between Outlook and SharePoint.

You might be wondering what new features SP1 brought to Outlook 2007. The basic answer is: None. SP1 includes only performance improvements and bug fixes. In this sense, this release is a true service pack instead of a feature pack.

I've mentioned some of the most important changes in Outlook 2007 SP1; if you want a complete list, you can find it here. The improvements to Outlook 2007 are certainly worthwhile, and I recommend that you install SP1 immediately if you haven't already. You can download Outlook 2007 SP1 from Microsoft's Web site at.

Outlook Internet Site of the Month
This month I've found a Web site that offers answers to common Outlook questions asked in the Microsoft Outlook newsgroup (found in the Microsoft Office Discussion Groups). Robert Sparnaaij's MSOutlook.info site provides you with a variety of questions and answers on various topics surrounding Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2000. If you want to get additional tips and tricks for Outlook, access the MSOutlook.info site at http://www.msoutlook.info.

As always, if you find a link for an interesting new freeware tool or add-on for Outlook, let me know! Send me a message at siegfried.jagott@siemens.com.