For at least ten years I have worked on PCs that use Microsoft Office productivity software (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint), at work and home. However, the PC at home had an old version of Office (either 2000 or XP) and did not have PowerPoint; this became a major problem for my youngest child who needed PowerPoint for some school work. So she took matters into her own hands, got a CD of Office 2007 from a friend and loaded all the Office software on the home PC. Unfortunately, she was unaware that Office needs a product key, and since we could not find one, my eldest child decide to uninstall the software, leaving our home PC without any Office software at all (the CD of the old Office version was long lost). That created a difficulty for me as my Outlook .PST file, with six years of personal email, was on that PC.
No problem, I thought, I can buy a new version of Office from a local retail outlet; that was where my first lesson in Office started. Lesson 1: The cheapest version of Office – Home and Student Edition - has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and currently costs about R900 in South Africa (list price). When I asked for a version that includes Outlook, I was astounded to learn that it would cost over three times as much, and the version that has all the Office software (including Visio and Groove) costs over seven times as much.
I remembered that I could use Outlook Express as that came standard with Windows, so I bought the Home and Student version and thought I had all my problems sorted out. Then came the next lesson, in fact two. Lesson 2: Outlook Express did not have an import option for Outlook, so I went searching on Google for a solution and found out that you cannot import an Outlook .PST into Outlook Express unless Outlook is installed on the same PC. Lesson 3: I also found out that Microsoft had replaced Outlook Express with Windows Live Mail.
Thinking that I might get better support for my problem with Windows Live Mail, I downloaded the Live Mail installer, and was impressed that it was less than 2Mb. Lesson 4: The installer is only a stub, when you run it, the following files are downloaded from a Microsoft site (note: I also opted to install a Microsoft application called Family Care):
- – Application Error Runtime
- – Visual Studio Runtime
- – Communications Platform
- – Junk Mail Filter
- – Live Update Tool
- – Live Sign-in
- – Installer
- – Choice Guard
- – Search Enhancement
- – Synch Framework Runtime
- – Synch Framework Services
- – Toolbar
- – Family Safety
After I got Windows Live Mail set up and running, I discovered Lesson 5: Windows Live Mail does import from Outlook Express, but has no import from Outlook. I thought I was screwed, until I realised that my work laptop (which is still on Windows XP) had Outlook and Outlook Express. This lead to Lesson 6: how to finally import my .PST file into Live Mail, the steps were:
- copy the .PST file from the home PC to the work laptop using a memory stick,
- create an Outlook profile on the work PC to use the .PST file,
- start Outlook Express and import data from Outlook using the profile I had just created,
- copy the Outlook Express storage directory (it’s not a simple file like Outlook) from the work laptop to the home PC using a memory stick,
- start Windows Live Mail and import the Outlook Express data from the storage directory on the memory stick.
By this time, I had finally recovered my history of emails, but from the time of buying the Office software to having emails available again took me over five hours.
Now I am ready to start being a Windows Live Mail user at home, and also wondering whether or not there is value in moving to a web-based mail service like Gmail.