Microsoft to open Outlook data format
Microsoft announced Monday that it plans to pry the locks off the closed, proprietary format of its Outlook e-mail/contacts/calendar/tasks/notes application.
By documenting the workings of Outlook's Personal Storage Table (PST) format--one of my least-favorite locked formats--Microsoft would make it far easier for developers to write Outlook-compatible software to complement or replace that widely used program. Furthermore, Microsoft plans to publish this documentation under terms that free other developers from having to pay for it, agree to a license or contact Microsoft at all.
The news arrived in a blog post by Paul Lorimer, Microsoft's group manager for Microsoft Office interoperability:
"...we will be releasing documentation for the .pst file format. This will allow developers to read, create, and interoperate with the data in .pst files in server and client scenarios using the programming language and platform of their choice."
Lorimer said that this effort "is still in its early stages" and will need more input from "industry experts and interested customers" about the usefulness of Microsoft's PST documentation. That could take a while, considering the complexity of this format--Outlook can have trouble just opening a PST file created with an older version.
Don't expect this to improve your selection of e-mail applications next year, in other words. But in two or three years... who knows? At a minimum, home users should expect more, faster and easier options for taking their data out of Outlook and into competing programs.
Do you use Outlook on your own time? What's your take on the news?
October 26, 2009; 4:52 PM ET
Categories: E-mail , Windows
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