While Outlook 2007 won't be receiving the same user interface overhaul as its fellow core Office applications, the e-mail and organization software will get a number of new features, including RSS integration and improved calendar sharing. Also on the docket: built-in SMS text messaging.
Microsoft has remained mum on the new SMS support, as the company is working to hash out agreements with wireless carriers in the United States. In a demonstration of the new feature to BetaNews earlier this month, Outlook 2007 product manager Jessica Arnold said Verizon was the first company to hop on board.
A primary focus of Office 2007 is enabling the remote worker, with technology ushering in a growing breed of BlackBerry-enabled employees. Through integration with Exchange Server, Outlook 2007 users can access e-mail and even reschedule meetings over the phone. Users can also listen voicemail directly from within Outlook.
Text messaging takes this idea further, keeping users connected without the need for a smartphone running Office Communicator Mobile or even an Exchange Server. Outlook 2007 will be able to send SMS messages to any mobile phone number just like composing an e-mail. If the receiver responds via their phone, the message is routed back into the sender's Outlook inbox.
Users can type up long messages, which will be automatically split in the appropriate size before sending. Microsoft has not yet finalized pricing of the feature, but as Outlook links with the sender's wireless phone number, sending a text message will likely simply deduct from the user's bank of available messages.
Thus far, Verizon is the only carrier to support the service, which requires a special Microsoft setup on the network side, but will work with any mobile phone. However, Arnold said Microsoft is confident it will finalize deals with Cingular, T-Mobile and other major wireless carriers by the time Office 2007 launches early next year.
Microsoft, Outlook, SMS, BlackBerry