Microsoft's David Goodhand announced Thursday that the company is creating an add-in to Outlook to support Internet-style ("> ") E-mail replies. Amazingly enough, this about face is a direct result of feedback in the Outlook newsgroup. As you may know, I have been very vocal in my criticism of this and other missing features and am a leading proponent of the need to improve Outlook. Here is David's reply to my original post about Outlook's deficiencies:

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By the end of next week, I will post a schedule and list of fixes for a downloadable Outlook patch. We began working on it immediately reading the first week's posting on this group. I do not want to commit to the schedule or fixes until we have a firm, realistic schedule and committed resources, and we are planning all of that as I write this.

Many of the comments from this group were cut-and-paste directly into our internal e-mails or discussions about what to fix and what the priorities were, so your feedback had very direct impact.

Thanks for your support. Now I need to ask for a little patience.

David Goodhand Microsoft Outlook group product planning manager

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Ah, they really do listen. In a slightly related issue, David also addressed a thread called "Outlook is CRAP" (no, I didn't start that one) where he made the following comments:

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I've avoided commenting, because this thread clearly belongs to the customers, but I would like to add one thought. Believe it or not, we're not deeply offended by sarcasm or strong emotions. We still sift through the message and try to find the bug or suggestions and think about it regardless of the tone. We're actually pretty hard on ourselves about the quality of our products, and so a message labeled "Outlook is crap" doesn't offend anybody here.

If there is something that does bother us, it's the assumption that the people building the product are either stupid or evil. We're just normal folks doing the best we can and making some mistakes. It's almost comical to read here that some defect in the product was done knowingly as part of some larger Microsoft plot. Believe me, we're not that clever. When we goof up, it's just a goof, not a conspiracy.

I guess I'm saying go ahead and slam product, but don't slam the people.

David Goodhand Microsoft Outlook group product planning manager

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Bravo.

--Pau