Wow. Sometimes the Web Version is BETTER!

I’m a technology, well, wh… well, uh, enthusiast. Started with the Apple IIc founded my first business serving enterprise clients of the Mac (almost from the launch), remained Mac for many, many years, helped a company build a Windows version so I was Mac and Windows, then took a job that was Windows. Whew, that was a quick thirty-two years.

Two years ago (June 2015) I left my government job and started (another) business. Google is the primary customer. Just like in my Motorola days when I’d be horrified to show up on site with a competing (Nokia) phone, I needed to immerse myself in the Google-world, and switched from Mac to a Chromebook cold turkey. Man did that hurt at first. I am a Microsoft Office, well actually an Outlook, junkie. Google’s platform turned out to satisfy all basic needs, not always in the prettiest of ways (can you say G Mail?), but it worked.

So long story short, I’ve been on all platforms since 1983 (not much UNIX or Linux, but enough to count), and despite sneaking a new MacBook Pro (with the funky touch-bar) back into the house to get back to my beloved MS Office, specifically Outlook, have been on the Chromebook for a few years. No maintenance required, no incessant patching to try to figure out, I can get to everything I need everywhere (including offline if I choose). So, cool.

That eight months on the Mac has practically ruined me. I found I wasn’t doing anything on the Mac I couldn’t do well on the Chromebook. Except Outlook. Since I’ve switched back, I’ve been jonesing for my Outlook Mac experience. I tried some third-party Chrome plugins, no joy. Resigned myself to a “disjointed” inbox, contacts, calendar experience.

But tonight, a revelation! In talking with my son, we pondered the unified experience, and he says… “Hey, dad. Have you tried Outlook on the Web?” Funny enough, for my new degree pursuit, Frederick Community College uses the web version of Outlook for students and I are one (grin).

I have to say, I am still confused, but I spun up a Chrome tab, logged into my Office 365 identity, and launched Outlook. Configuration was dead-simple, as in “choose a few preferences.” But we soon discovered, Outlook Web easily supported importing contacts from Google Contacts. Simple, right?

Wrong. Well right, and wrong. While I LOVE the import feature (right), for some god-forsaken reason, Outlook 2016 on the Mac did not support importing any kind of export file I could generate from Google Contacts. Hah! Specifically, no .csv import. The Windows desktop version allows .csv import, and I was happily surprised the Web version does as well. Solved an eight month headache in about 5 minutes.

Moral of the story — the Web, Mac, Phone, iPad and Windows versions will never have complete feature parity. I doubt that’s even a Microsoft goal! But at least I found an acceptable workaround!

BTW — I’m going to guess that more than half the Google workforce uses Macs! (Strictly from my observations). I’m not busting on Google in any way, I’ve worked for Apple and mostly loved the company and definitely loved the products. I’m just saying Googlers being offered Macs is a huge commitment for Google’s productivity tools running on any device.

In this case, the web version, previously relegated as a lower end version that lagged behind other versions, is the winner! Imagine that!