InboxEx for Microsoft Outlook

Here are the basics from the InboxEX website :

  • Supports Outlook 2007 and 2010.
  • Absolutely free, no limitations, no spams.
  • No signup, share via your Gmail account.
  • Tightly integrated, powerful and easy to use.

According to the InboxEX website, the product also provides email search, email archive, calendar availability sharing via Google, and meeting scheduling.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of documentation. There is none – not on their website, nor on Facebook. The website’s “Forum” tab is a link to Facebook, which (at the time of my testing) had 8 followers. If all goes well on this test, maybe we’ll make it 9 by the end of this post : let’s find out.

InboxEx Testing Step 1 Setup_msiAfter first downloading the 10MB install file, I ran InboxExSetup.msi and immediately ran into The first sign of the need for better documentation; in this case, installation requirements.

InboxEx for Outlook This Setup Requires DotNet Framework Version 4“This setup requires the .NET Framework version 4.0. Please install the .NET Framework and run this setup again. The .NET Framework can be obtained from the web. Would you like to do this now?” The two responses in the dialog box are yes and no.

I see this being a show stopper for anyone who doesn’t have a technical background,  but at least it launched a web browser with a link to http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=186913 which turned out to be the download for the Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (Web Installer).

Testing InboxEx Step 2 LicenseAgreement5 minutes later I had Microsoft .NET  downloaded and installed, and so I continued with setup of InboxEx.

The license was pretty standard, though I found this “Data Collection” section rather interesting :

7. DATA COLLECTION InboxEx Inc. collects anonymized data about your usage of the product and necessary data such email addresses necessary to provide InboxEx services. You agree that InboxEx Inc. may collect this data and use it for email address resolution, product improvements, research, demonstrations, or other purposes. InboxEx Inc. will not sell or release this data, nor does it aggregate personally identifiable information, except as needed to provide the services granted by the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

Still, onward and upward.

Testing InboxEx Step 3 A Pause While InstallingNext I was surprised to find a pause. I wondered if the system hadn’t hung, so I minimized everything I had open, moved the window around – nothing. This is where documentation, or a downloading progress window would have been nice. Fortunately I waited and, after about 90 seconds I was presented with a User Account prompt to install a .msi file downloaded from the internet. I checked the certificate and confirmed it was from InboxEx Inc and, so, proceeded.

Installation proceeded as I would have expected, and completed. Keep in mind that I had Microsoft Outlook 2010 Open throughout this installation, along with some Chrome Browser windows.

Testing InboxEx Step 4 FinalizingTesting InboxEx Step 5 Installation Complete

I see nothing specifically in Microsoft Outlook. Do I need to exit Outlook and enter again? I check the Start Menu. Nothing under the new apps. Nothing under all programs.

So, I closed Outlook and reopened. All of a sudden, Outlook got REALLY busy. I checked Kaspersky Internet Security and saw that it was scanning email like mad. Outlook was next to useless, the busy wheel flashing several times a second. What is it doing? I’m not sure. Indexing, possibly. But it has me a little worried. Okay, now I see the message in the InboxEx Column : Indexing is still in progress.

Okay, so, if you can get past the flickering “Busy Wheel,” there is some functionality. I try to add a Gmail account. Tab doesn’t move from Gmail* (aka username) and Password*. At least I can click. I add the Password and click Okay.

The flickering is making me sea sick. I think I feel my eye twitching.

I go back into options. There is a checkbox I didn’t see before. “Sychronize calendar with Google.” Huh? I don’t want the whole calendar there. I’m looking for specific controls. This is the same as Google Calendar Sync with a bunch of extra stuff.

I like the conference link, and I appreciate the archiving controls. Still getting sick from the strobing busy wheel. I check my Google Calendar. Sure enough, my whole calendar is being populated up on the Google Calendar. This isn’t the option for me.

So, I Exit Outlook hoping that it will stop the process. Time to uninstall.

I run the uninstall through Add/Remove programs. One not entirely unexpected prompt to close InboxExServer.exe. I choose the Automatic option, it continues. Next is the User Account Control. Again with the 58d6e2.msi prompt. I approve and it finishes without further prompting. The service appears to be gone, and there are no unwanted Program Files folders.

I’ll try to check back with InboxEx another time. Maybe there will be another version.

Google Calendar Sync for Microsoft Outlook

One of the advantages of Cloud Computing (that’s what they call it when your stuff is stored on the internet, instead of, or in addition to, just your computer), is being able to have access to your data from another computer. It can also be very useful for a business that wants to use a calendar for its customers to schedule appointment 24 hours a day, or check your availability against their own before getting in touch.

Google Calendar is jut one example of such cloud computing. Trick is, what happens if you are blending your existing systems with such cloud systems, as in the case of using Microsoft Outlook AND Google Calendar at the same time.

Google’s Answer is an application called Google Calendar Sync for Microsoft Outlook.

Google Calendar Sync – Initial Impressions

My initial impression of the Google Calendar Sync for Microsoft Outlook is, surprisingly, only about average, but sufficient. Bear in mind that this was tested on an installation of Microsoft Outlook 2010 with Business Contact Manager enabled and installed on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit.

Installation of Google Calendar Sync

First impressions do count, and installation is the first impression, so I was disappointed in some of the installation instructions (I generally find Google documentation to be complete and well thought out).

Google Calendar Sync Installation Please Close Microsoft Outlook

  • First, the installation instructions do not say anything about closing Microsoft Outlook. The installation routine, however, does.
  • Now, I don’t know what the cause and effect were, but when I reached this point of the installation and tried to Exit Outlook, the Outlook service continued to run and I had to manually “End Process.”
  • Since I had canceled the installation of the plugin (and closed all other Microsoft applications, and applications linked to Outlook) in order to ensure that this wasn’t causing the problem, I restarted the installation.
  • Google Calendar Sync Installation completed fine and I selected the 2 Way Sync.
  • Next, I tried to open Outlook; which hung, again. I checked and two Outlook processes were running. Was this because the sync app had tried to open it as well? I don’t know. Either way, I now had to find a way of getting into Outlook.
    • I started by trying to stop the Google Calendar Sync by right clicking it in the system tray and choosing “Stop.” Repeated requests to stop it failed.
    • Ultimately, I resorted to forcing it to close by choosing the “GoogleCalendarSync.exe *32” in Task Manager and clicking “End Process.”
    • Since Outlook still didn’t open, I found the Outlook Process and for this chose “End Process,” too.
    • This caused the second instance of Microsoft Outlook to try to open immediately, which generated an error that another Outlook process was already open.
    • Fortunately, both processes closed immediately and I was able to open Outlook immediately thereafter.
  • Without the Google Calendar Sync running automatically, Outlook opened promptly and I then manually ran the Calendar Sync, this time choosing the option for 1 way: Google Calendar to Microsoft Outlook calendar. This appeared to work, but since I already had all the test appointments on my calendar I created a new one and ran the sync again. This appointment showed up just fine on my calendar.

The problem, for me, which would be shared by any business environment, is that I don’t want all of my personal appointments to sync as well. Having not found any options to select a secondary calendar, I went back and reviewed the Introduction, which is when I found this :

Syncing events on secondary calendars

Google Calendar Sync will only sync events from your primary Google Calendar and your default Microsoft Outlook calendar at this time. If you’ve scheduled events on a secondary calendar in Google Calendar that you’d like to sync with your Microsoft Outlook Calendar, you can either move the event to your primary calendar or export your entire secondary calendar and import the events to your primary calendar.

Since this clearly isn’t the best option for me, at least right now, I’ll just uninstall and keep looking for a solution that allows me to update both directions. I still like the functionality – it is simple, straight forward, and does exactly what it says it does. So, I will soon return to Google Calendar Sync and repeat these steps with another profile to see how it works with a bidirectional synchronization.

Uninstalling Google Calendar Sync

Kudos to Google, for great linking in their documentation.

Google Calendar Sync Uninstallation Please Close Microsoft OutlookAgain, however, there is no mention (or surprise) of needing to close Microsoft Outlook before uninstalling the sync app. It does, however, come up with this nice big bright message reading “Please Close Microsoft Outlook before continuing.”

I did, then continued, and all went well from thereon. I even checked Task Manager and confirmed that Outlook was not running. I clicked to Open Microsoft Outlook 2010 and it did so without hesitation. Right back to normal, with the additional Calendar Item that was added during testing.

Google Calendar Sync Uninstall Completed

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