It’s the simplest, most important technologies that can make us, break us, or turn us into vehement public kvetchers.
Take email. You want it to work in a simple way. You want the people who created it to know how you use it and you want them to adjust to it.
Instead, it drives you toward a heightened level of conniption. So much so that you’re forced to make a TikTok video.
That, at least, is what happened to TikTok user @maselreb.
She offered a mere twenty seconds of skillful diatribe. It began: “Outlook was created by a person who was never once in their entire life needed to email a single person, do a single f***ing thing via electronic mail.”
It’s a stirring beginning to a speech. Which she followed with: “They’re using a carrier pigeon because there’s simply no f***ing way.”
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A negative Outlook
Having never talked on TikTok, I imagine many people just put their feelings out there and conceive that perhaps no one will see them.
Yet here I sit, a mere day after @maselreb spoke her piece and it seems the world’s very sense of peace was disturbed.
More than 1.1 million views, 220,000 likes, and beyond 3,000 comments suggest many people have inordinately firm feelings about Microsoft’s email service.
Please imagine, though, that these feelings aren’t unidirectional.
Oh, of course there were those who chimed in harmony. Sample: “Nothing is intuitive, I literally can’t find the send button sometimes.” Second sample: “Being forced to abandon the email you’re drafting to look at your calendar and then spend 30 minutes trying to find the email draft.”
Then there was: “I genuinely think at least 30% of my day is spent trying to find an attachment in an email in an email thread. And then I give up.”
I confess, as a longtime Hotmail/Outlook user, I’ve certainly encountered such phenomena before I became oddly used to them.
My own greatest pain with Outlook is that having it as the default email on my iPhone, new emails in a thread are thrust to the very bottom. So, you have to scroll all the way through the thread to find the new email. This isn’t human.
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My Outlook is better than your Google mess
This TikTok thread did, however, throw up a fascinating spectacle — the large number of people who believe Outlook is still better than Gmail.
There you were thinking Google’s software design had to be more elegant than Microsoft’s. It seems not to be the case for many, even if the difference is not so great.
Even @maselreb mused: “‘I liKe oUtlOok bEtteR tHAn GMaiL’ yeah I like dying in my sleep better than being stabbed but it doesn’t mean I’m not in hell.”
Let’s be more specific.
One TikToker offered: “LMAO this is my worst and most controversial opinion, but I like Outlook more than gmail at this point functionally.”
Another whispered: “Outlook is so damn functional and WAY better than gmail.”
There were more detailed thoughts. Such as: “Gmail is better at searching. In all other ways, Gmail is garbage to use if you get a lot of emails.
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Enterprise software is emotional
As I scrolled through this public outpouring of email-related feelings, what was clear was that many truly believe Outlook is better, just as many truly believe Gmail is one of the worst creations known to humanity.
One determined Microsoft fanperson opined: “The problem is every other Microsoft business tool is amazing.” The idea being that Outlook isn’t quite so amazing. Naturally, I’d love to hear how Word is amazing, but I fear I won’t be persuaded. There’s precious little that’s intuitive about Word.
Please help. I’m beginning to discover enterprise software is really an emotive topic.
The most poignant — and surely important — commentary came with these simple words: “Google is no better. I don’t know why none of them can work after this many years.”
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When such vital software has been in existence for decades and still it incites this amount of consternation, it’s worth asking why such poor design principles were attached to it in the first place.
Could it be that those who designed it did so purely for themselves, without enjoying any sort of instinctive grasp of real human behavior? (That’s the behavior of real humans who aren’t software nerds.)
Could it be, in fact, that there’s a desperate need for a radical rethinking of our simplest, most important enterprise software, so that we can’t be twisting toward the Department of Doolally on a daily basis?
Google, Microsoft, Apple, and friends. What do you think? Email me and I hope to find your email somewhere.