Outlook 2007 steroid fix with SP2

If you use Outlook 2007 on a Windows computer to manage your email, calendar and more, you’ll definitely want to get hold of the Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2, released yesterday.

It’s a major update to the Office suite – which comprises productivity apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and others – and it’s worth reviewing exactly what’s new, updated and fixed by SP2 in each of those apps.

The element that’s of most interest to me at the moment is what SP2 does to Outlook 2007. I have a distinct love/hate relationship with Outlook and email and, for better or worse, I’m staying (stuck?) with Outlook.

I’m running Outlook from the Office 2007 Professional Edition on a Windows Vista Dell XPS-420 quad-core PC with 4 gigs of RAM. I have five email accounts coming into an Outlook 2007 PST, all via POP. So no IMAP or Exchange Server setups.

The primary PST is a manageable size at the moment, about 750 megs. I also have 2 archive PSTs that load when Outlook starts; each of those is about 400 megs. And I don’t typically use Outlook directly for email, using instead an outstanding add-on called NEO Pro that I’ve been using for quite a few years now.

What I’ve immediately noticed after installing SP2 is the sheer speed improvement in Outlook loading, operating and exiting. My estimation: it’s at least twice as fast as before.

Among all the various fixes and improvements, these immediately stand out for me:

[…] In addition to optimizing the storage engine, Microsoft spent time and resources investigating and addressing some common sources of unresponsiveness in the Outlook application layer. We have seen that some of the most frustrating instances of unresponsiveness occur when Outlook is doing work that is unrelated to any user actions. Such situations are especially frustrating because the user cannot predict when they will occur or how long they will last. Two of the more common causes of Outlook unresponsiveness that are unrelated to user action were processing updates to the message list and processing updates to other elements in the main window in Outlook. Our engineering team undertook a complex effort to change the methods in which such updates are processed to minimize their effect on Outlook responsiveness in SP2.

That’s to do with using Outlook in your day-to-day activities. It really is notable how I’m seeing such dramatic improvements right after installing SP2.

And possibly the most significant thing you notice has really improved – shutdown:

[…] Outlook formerly had built-in logic that caused it to refuse to shut down when it detected that a third-party was using it for data access or was otherwise integrated with Outlook functionality. A side effect of this design was that Outlook would frequently did not exit for no apparent reason. If all storage providers support it, we have optimized SP2 to quickly shut down Outlook by stopping all server activity, flushing unsaved PST content to the disk, saving un-persisted preferences and settings, and then quickly exiting. Most notably, Outlook no longer waits for external references to be released.

[…] Our goal is to make sure that Outlook shuts down quickly in just a few seconds, reliably, and consistently. Also, a new Outlook icon appears in the notification area after you close Outlook if the Outlook.exe process is still running.

Translation: Outlook exits completely – no outlook.exe left running that you so often see in the Task Manager – in less than 10 seconds in my experience so far. That’s fast enough!

You can download and manually install SP2 although it’s best to see if it’s offered to you via Windows Update (mine was last night) and install it that way.

Nice work, Microsoft.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Eoj

    I like the icon with the X in the system tray showing Outlook is still opened and shutting down in the background.

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