For people like me, who spend 70% of their time in the Outlook inbox and calendar, here is some good news. With 2007, Outlook is now a full featured RSS reader (Another catchup game from Microsoft in the recent times). RSS readers with an outlook-like interface are a great way to fool your boss – while he may think you are busy reading emails and acting upon them, you are in fact browsing through your favorite blogs.
So what do you need to do to read your favorite blogs on Outlook? First, get the RSS/atom feed link. If you are using IE7, it is as simple as clicking on the RSS icon which launches outlook. Otherwise, if you know the link, just copy it to clipboard and click on Tools -> Account Settings -> RSS Feeds. Click on the new button which launches a small address dialog box. Paste the address here, and you get an “RSS Feed Options” dialog which gives you several customizations for your feed.
Once added, you can click on RSS feeds in your Outlook personal folders to view the recent articles. Unfortunately, Outlook does not allow you to search for RSS feeds as most Newsreaders do. It may appear in the final version, though.
So what is the advantage of using a mail client as an RSS reader? Well,the first reason os that you can forward interesting articles to your friends/colleagues. You can download them fully and sort it into different folders for later reference. In short, much of what you do with an email can be done on the articles you receive as feeds.
For open source fans who do not use Outlook, Thunderbird can be a similar great RSS reader. Though you can do RSS reading with firefox too, with its built-in bookmarks toolbar – it only gives you the headlines, which many times may not be very helpful. There are several RSS news reader extensions available for firefox though.
PS: After using it for a few days, I really started liking the new interface of Office 2007. While initially it looked baffling (Since the interface wasn’t changed in decades), the new toolbar layout is just brilliant and highly usable. Sure M$ has put in lot of research into the new UI. I am planning to write a complete review, if time permits. I am using it only in my Home laptop, the office IT guys won’t allow me to install it. Let all the IT guys go to hell.