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Boycott Outlook

Week of September 18, 2001

There's a new worm/virus - guess who it hits.

I don't think I've ever written an email message with Microsoft Outlook in my life. I doubt I ever will. I've fired it up perhaps two or three times, and the experience from the get-go was so anathemic that I immediately killed it. The damn thing is so putrid that no self-respecting netizen can use it.

The Internet is built up on TEXT and ONLY on text. This dates back to the historic memo sent by Doug McIlroy to Messrs Thompson and Ritchie before the inception of Unix. Make everything a garden hose, McIlroy wrote, and make sure it's all Ascii text. That way all the computers of the world will understand it.

Log onto any SMTP or POP server in the world and you will see. It's all text. Even attachments are text. There is no other way 'the email would get through.'

But try to see the naked message, the raw text message, with an idiotic emailer like Outlook and you're in trouble. Leave it to the idiots in Redmond to think up a way to corrupt even the early paradigms of Doug McIlroy, to find a way to corrupt the very glue that holds the Internet at large together.

Over the years I have received many a desperate message from Outlook victims. Responsible people who are sick and tired of getting HTML email from their almost intelligent friends. People who have wanted me to create quick and dirty applications to send to these latter day Einsteins so their HTML settings in Outlook get turned off and that permanently. It seems the counterparts to the AOLers can't even manage to do this.

As John Walker creator of AutoCAD said, 'HTML email is increasingly the hallmark of the clueless.' Hear hear.

But of course it doesn't stop there. Outlook as an application is a total abomination. The Bloatbusters have an excellent, if brief, analysis of this disaster called an emailer and show how the insidious bastard junks the Windows Registry on every startup. And only Microsoft would devise a method whereby an empty email folder takes nearly 300KB on disk - to contain absolutely nothing at all.


ILOVEYOU hit on 4 May 2000 - over a year ago. The disaster that is Outlook compounded itself. In one fell swoop an innocent script demonstrated to the world just how shitty Microsoft ideas really are. Mark Joseph Edwards calmly laid the complete blame and cost at the feet of Microsoft - and with a tab of US$5 billion, that's quite an accusation.

How did the MCPs of the world react? By cleaning up their act? How did home users react? By finding text-based emailers? No. MCPs started wantonly destroying all email traffic with attachments, and home users just kept on using Outlook, the way AOLers keep on using AOL.

Then AnnaK hit, then the next one hit, and the next one and the next one... And, not too long ago, along came SirCam. Had the world learned its lessons yet? Had anything changed? Ask the Unix people out there who watch this Microsoft shit hit the fan time and again and just shake their heads. Nothing has changed because people seem to lack the requisite gray matter to make it happen.


Right now the world does not have time for another email catastrophe. Right now the world is still in mourning for what happened at the World Trade Center and waiting for resolution, even for - dare we dream - closure. Right now the world should not have to tolerate this ridiculous distraction.

The time has come to put out a call: Boycott Outlook. If you have not already boycotted Microsoft, then at least boycott their pathetic emailer.

If your corporate network is run by idiotic MCPs, then there's not a lot you can do. Just make sure you don't put any private addresses in your corporate address book and don't leave any private stuff on your corporate box. Use webmail for your private correspondence (and turn HTML off ). Then, if your corporate LAN goes under because of the crunch of yet another Outlook exploit, kick back and enjoy it. Let the suits and the MCPs battle it. It's not your problem.

If you're a home user, don't say you haven't been forewarned. And if you want to communicate with the netizens that really count, take this opportunity to ditch that sucker before you get blacklisted everywhere. Go to any software archive and check out the emailers they have available. Pick up a few and try them out. And make sure you see email as text only and that your new emailer is not using Outlook technology without your yet knowing it.

Use a tool such as Blobview to check for Outlook and IE dependencies prior to running the applications and tools such as X-perf and X-tool to see the dependencies at runtime. Emailers such as Eudora are not legit as they are just rewrites of Outlook; pick something that does TEXT AND TEXT ONLY and that can perform UUENCODE etc. for your attachments. If you want to be safe - if you want to be smart - that's the only way to go.

And then maybe the Internet will still want to correspond with you and have you around.

Rick

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