Outlook 2007 and RSS

I’ve been playing with Outlook 2007 and it’s ability to handle RSS feeds. While the basic functionality is available, it is far from an adequate solution for more than just a cursory monitor on a few things you may find interesting.

So, how does it work? Basically each feed appears as a folder in your RSS feeds section and each post is shown similar to an email line in your normal folders. You click on a post and the description shows up in your preview pane together with a link to the original post. This bit works fine, you can subscribe to as many RSS feeds as you like, and navigate through them one by one reading posts. Fresh feeds (with unread posts) appear in bold so you can identify them easily.

Unfortunately that seems to be the limit of what Outlook can do. There’s no way to aggregate the feeds as Sharpreader or Google Reader does, so the only way for me to check what’s new on the hundreds of feeds I’m subscribed to, is to scroll down the list looking for bold entries and click on them one by one. There’s an even worse problem than this however. Catching up on a feed involves right-clicking on a feed and choosing “Mark as Read”. But you can only do this on a feed-by-feed basis! I’ve just imported my OPML list with around 300 feeds in it; Outlook is happy refreshing each one of them, but each feed now looks like an unread feed and I’m going to have to click each one of them in turn to “Mark as Read”. The option appears on Folders, but if selected, it doesn’t cascade to child nodes under the Folder.

It’s cute .. but totally unusable 🙁

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