Outlook eyesore!

One of the things I miss about Mac OS X is Outlook 2007. Believe it or not I’d grown quite comfortable with how Microsoft’s latest email client was shaping up both in terms of look and functionality. I flirted with Leopard’s own (somewhat simple) mail client, then bought Entourage 2008 in an effort to recapture some of that Outlook 2007 feel. While I’ve been persisting with Entourage, it’s still way short of the mark so I’ve been experimenting with running Outlook 2007 under VMWare Fusion instead.

I was pretty pleased with the results, but for two major drawbacks, only one of which has a solution. I use a Mac Pro with an nVIDIA 8600GT card coupled to a Samsung 24-inch monitor, and under OS X the results are impressive to say the least. VMWare on the other hand has to emulate a generic 128Mb SVGA adapter and has no way of knowing what monitor you’re using, and thus loading a monitor profile under Fusion is going to be a challenge. The result is that while all other aspects of Windows XP running under Fusion appear ok, the appearance of Outlook 2007 was quite frankly awful! The main mail window looked like it was being displayed by a printer running out of ink! Outlook under Fusion

I tried changing resolutions in my virtual machine to no effect, and changing the system-wide font smoothing setting in Windows didn’t help either. After much searching I finally found a partial solution at least. It involves changing the fonts used for the main mail view, using settings buried deep within the application. If you’re having the same problem, then here’s what to do.

  1. Open Outlook 2007 to the main mail view.
  2. Go to the View menu and choose Current View, then Customize Current View.
  3. In the next window click on the Other Settings button.
  4. Now you can experiment with trying different settings for Colum Font, Row Font and Auto Preview Font. The default font is something called 8pt Segoe UI, which looked dreadful on my monitor.

Whilst the results still don’t come out looking as good as Outlook 2007 running natively under Windows, they go some way to addressing the ‘faint font’ problem I was experiencing.

The other problem I hinted at above is that by using Outlook 2007 running under VMWare, Mac OS X is blissfully unaware of anything to do with your mail. While Entourage is functionally inferior to Outlook, as a native Mac application your mail and calendar get included within the scope of what Spotlight can search, which I have been finding really handy of late.

Seems there’s always a trade-off in life. Whay can’t I have my cake and eat it?


2 Responses

  1. If you’re running Windows XP, I recommend Microsoft’s ClearType Tuner Power Toy:

    The problem is that VMware Fusion doesn’t have a way to let Windows know about the physical layout of the RGB pixels in your LCD monitor. Running the ClearType Tuner Power Toy will let you specify this manually.

    Good luck!

  2. Ben – thanks for reminding me about PowerToys, I recall them from my early Windows days (when they were independant from Microsoft) and had clean forgotten about them. The ClearType Tuner is an excellent tool and coupled with a change of font, I’ve been able to tweak my VM so that Outlook doesn’t look too bad now.

    Just makes it that much harder to switch away from Outlook 2007 now, and if I could get Spotlight to index my Outlook mail (something akin to impossible), I could ditch Entourage… 😉

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