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12. No Easy Synchronicity

This one promises to be addressed by some new technology, like SharePoint and the new Groove software. But SharePoint requires a Windows server, and I doubt Groove will work with Outlook contacts and calendars, just conventional documents.

Did you ever have colleagues who shared your documents and returned multiple versions to conform? Not a pretty sight. (This is what Groove and SharePoint are supposed to address, along with some new features in Office 12.)

Or do you work with one Outlook installation on your desktop and another on your laptop, only to have two calendars and contacts lists?

Sure, you could install Exchange Server—again, a server-centered application that is overkill for many small office users—and open up a much bigger can of worms in terms of cost, maintenance, and IT issues. (We discussed HyperOffice, an alternative to Exchange Server for email and contacts, in a recent update.)

Or you might try to import and export *.CSV files every few days or weeks and go see a psychiatrist in between.

There used to be a simple item called the Briefcase where you could stash the latest versions of files and redistribute them, but apparently it was either too useful or did not work at all. Now you need numerous "workarounds" to make sure that your most current contacts, appointments, and other files are where you expect them to be.

And don’t get me started on those "utilities" like IntelliSynch and TrueSynch. Outlook and Office changes versions, patches, and service packs just often enough to drive most users of those products to drink.

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