Outlook Affliction

Various “discoveries” regarding Outlook and its functionality (or lack thereof):

  • Fax numbers as electronic addresses:  When you open the Address Book to address an email, you will see two entries for any contacts for which you have both an email address and a business fax number.  If you’re at all like the CEO of my company (or any other rational human being), you’re asking yourself “why on earth would I want to send an email to a fax number?”  Unfortunately, this behavior is by design.  It is intended to make fax numbers “first class” electronic addresses for fax-server/unified messaging scenarios.  It is hard-coded into a DLL for Outlook and cannot be turned off or changed.  The only real workaround is to put an F or “Fax” at the beginning of each fax number – the alpha character(s) prevent Outlook from recognizing the contents of the field as a valid fax number.  You could also store fax numbers in one of the other phone fields, as “Business Fax” is the only field that comes in for this special treatment.  Megaweak.
  • You know that drop-down of cached email addresses that you get when you start typing in the “To” field?  That’s populated from an NK2 file that stores addresses that you’ve either typed in or selected from “Contacts” or your Exchange OAB/GAB.  The thing is, when you select addresses from your Global Address Book, they’re not stored as regular SMTP addresses in the NK2 file.  Instead, they’re stored as Active Directory addresses pointing to the user object in AD.  The CN at the end of the address is a GUID-type string.  And guess what?  Outlook uses THAT CN as the search term when populating the drop-down.  So, for instance, “Alisa Hernandez” shows up when you type a “b” because her GUID starts with a B.  Awesome!
  • Office 2010 has a “compatibility issue” with Type 1 Helvetica fonts from Adobe.  Specifically, touching anything in Word or Outlook with text formatted with these (INCREDIBLY COMMON)  fonts will cause a massive insta-crash, every single time.  Supposedly this issue will be fixed in SP1.  In the mean time, there’s a registry hack that will prevent the crashes.  Open HKLM\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitution and delete the key that lists a font to substitute for Helvetica (usually Arial).

My feelings about these issues could best be summarized as “meh”.

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