Sometimes, if you’re away from the office or have no other way to access your mail, you have to resort to Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA). I’ve used OWA a lot over the past few years and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s quite possibly the worst web based e-mail client I’ve ever used for these 5 reasons (in order of hate):
1. There’s no search tool
How utterly basic is this? If you’re receiving tons of e-mail everyday, there’s simply no way you can survive without a search tool to find key words, contacts or e-mails. I fail to understand how such a thing has been implemented in web based e-mail clients such as Gmail and even Microsoft’s own Windows Live Mail (formerly Hotmail) for years and yet OWA, which has been around since 2000, still hasn’t.
2. No predictive e-mail addresses
One of the most simple innovations in e-mailing still hasn’t arrived to OWA. I can’t always remember the exact e-mail address of everyone I want to e-mail. It’s a huge time saver when you can simply type the first few letters of someones name and their e-mail address magically appear – not so with OWA.
3. It only works properly in Internet Explorer
What a “smart” move this was by Microsoft. If you don’t use OWA in Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer then you lose half the features. You can’t even see your mail folders on the inbox screen for goodness sake. This is because the “Premium Interface” in OWA only works with ActiveX which, what a surprise, was developed by Microsoft and incidentally is one of the most popular entry points for viruses, trojans and other nasties onto your PC.
4. You can’t filter messages in Firefox
Again, this is so basic. Imagine the mess your inbox would be if all of your messages from colleagues just went straight to your inbox. That’s exactly what you have to deal with using OWA for Firefox. In fact, there’s no option to drag and drop mail into folders, rename folders or merge folders using OWA in Firefox. Anything you want to do involves checking and unchecking boxes like you’re back in 1995 or something.
5. No auto-saving of messages
Imagine you’ve just finished a long highly detailed explanatory e-mail to a colleague. You click send and you get a server time-out message. Result? You’ve lost the message entirely. The only way to ensure that you don’t lose e-mails in case of a crash or server failure is to keep copying and pasting the e-mail as you write it which is just madness. DO NOT rely on OWA if you’re writing long or important e-mails.
If there’s one symbol of how antiquated Microsoft really are, you probably can’t pick a better example than Microsoft Outlook Web Access.