Outlook 2007 and RSS Feeds
I naively assumed that the Office team dog-fooded the Outlook 2007 RSS Feeds capability before shipping the product. Based on my experience, I am inclined to believe that no testing was done on this aspect of Outlook. Here are some issues that are obvious bugs or shortcomings. Some of these are so blatant that it makes you wonder if anyone on the Office team even uses RSS on an everyday basis.
RSS Page: There is no provision (at least none I could find) for easily customizing the page you see when you click RSS Feeds in Outlook. What I expect to see is a summary of the newest items from all the feeds in my subscription list. Instead I see a useless intro to RSS and a more useless directory of various Microsoft feeds.
Adding Feeds: Adding feeds should be as simple and easy as possible. If I chance upon a good feed in my browser, I am inclined to right-click and copy the feed link. I then right-click on RSS Feeds and select “Add a new RSS feed…” which displays the “New RSS Feed” dialog. This is where the problem begins. I cannot right-click and paste the link in my clipboard. I have no idea why. Instead, I have to use Ctrl-V or Edit – Paste. This is a nuisance. I also have no ability to customize anything about the feed when I add it. To do that, I have to click “Tools,” “Account Settings…,” “RSS Feeds,” highlight feed, “Change…”… This is ridiculously complicated.
Feed Handling: This is where things go seriously wrong. I am convinced that Outlook 2007 has a built-in mechanism for arbitratily flagging feed items as read or unread with the additional capability of automatically duplicating items. This gets annoying very quickly, especially on blog feeds. It’s a simple XML feed and Outlook should be able to figure out if an item is already present and not duplicate it. The read/unread flagging is also not rocket science.
Post Display: Reading a post with images is another annoyance. Most post images are not important, but when a blogger has posted a screen-cap or a photo, one needs to be able to look at the image. Outlook will mysteriously hide the images in a post until you click on it. This is weird behavior. Once you select the option to be able to view images, you should be able to view the images. Requiring an additional click on each image cannot be an intentional feature…this has to be a bug and a pretty serious one too.
All-in-all the RSS reader in Outlook is junk. It’s one saving grace is the ability to export the list of feeds in OPML format so you can switch to different reader.