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Please, No!

Posted by Preston on 2009-10-30

So now the folks at the interoperability labs at Microsoft want to open up the Outlook PST format so that other people can interoperate with it.

Hmmm, forgive me, but that sounds a bit too much like Harrison Bergeron. Equality for all doesn’t mean the experience sucks any less.

The PST format (and the more recent updates for Outlook/Entourage) have been the bane of the average system or backup administrators’ existence for way, way too long.

Oh I recognise the arguments in opening it up: it will allow developers to come up with custom access programs/software, and that may include utilities to allow easier block level backup of local PST files. (See here.)

You know what I think it’s more likely to do though? Encourage more people to use a format that shouldn’t have been created in the first place, to hold data that shouldn’t be there, and thus create more backup and storage problems.

If the Microsoft interoperability labs were serious about interoperability, they’d have published a timeline on moving either towards a more open mail format (not by creating published data structures, but by using honest to goodness simple formats plain text, attachments, etc.), or at least, if nothing else, a stripped down SQL database and provide a local utility/API that can be used to access in plain relational database format. They do, after all, design their own SQL database server, and they provide ODBC client access at the OS level (something I’m constantly reminded of by Excel users!) What’s more, Apple managed to integrate this style of system into their OS, so it can hardly be said that it’s not possible.

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One Response to “Please, No!”

  1. Exactly what I want. All the specs on a technology that does nothing except cause problems. /sigh

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