test.ical.ly | getting the web by the balls



Please support your own file format. Long term.

My parents know I work for a publisher and I do something with the internet. To them this seems to mean that I am some sort of computer wizard who can fix everything from hardware to software so they tend to call whenever a wizard is required. This time the task sounded simple.

Transfer all mails from an old PC to a shiny new one. Easy peasy..

Unfortunately I was soo wrong.

The old PC had Microsoft Outlook 2003 on Windows XP running while the new PC only had the free Windows Live Mail on Windows 7.

I hadn’t done something like this for some years running on Linux myself but I remembered to export a .pst file to then import it on the new computer.

Unfortunately Windows Live Mail doesn’t know about .pst files.

I don’t want to bother you with a rant that takes you as long to read as it took me to endure the procedure (about 8 hours) but in the end I had to install the trial version of Outlook to import the .pst file, then extract the mails with another mail program and then save it to Windows Mail which I was then able to import with Windows Live Mail. I had to export the calender separately and load it on the web to a newly created Windows Live account to then sync it with the mail program. And tall the contacts had to be exported into a .csv file and then imported. Yes, that’s the very short version.

I’m not really into all that Microsoft jazz anyway but I can happily accept that they abandoned Outlook Express and instead created Windows Mail for Vista which then got replaced again by Windows Live Mail on Windows 7. Weird yes. But ok.

But why – for f***s sake – did Microsoft decide to not support their own file format which worked perfectly for years?

You can of course replace such a format by a new version or a complete new one. But please always offer a way to import from older versions no matter how old they are if the information itself has not changed. An email is still an email, an event is still an event and a contact is still a contact.

  • If I remember correctly (it was a long long time ago) importing stuff from a .pst was not possible with outlook express either.

    And when I last wanted to use the .pst after a reinstall, the pst didn’t even contain the account-informations … .

    And back then Outlook did not support the iaf-files (Account settings for mailservers and stuff) from outlook express.

    Probably … Microsoft just does not want you to go from their paid product back to the one delivered “free”/”without additional charge” with Windows :)

  • You know the best email exchange format?

    Your own server with IMAP 😀

    Importing/Exporting mails for parents/friends from Outlook to Expres to Live to Thunderbird and back is a nightmare.
    So I copy the mail archives to an IMAP account and reimport on the new machine.

    Sure, that’s not perfect, some timestamps or falgs might get lost, but saves the 8 hours you spent and is “good enough” for the people that usually ask you to do something like this 😀

  • @Peter unfortunately I had only the .pst to start with but in the end I managed to use an IMAP account. :)

  • julian

    i would have used this change to switch my parents over to thunderbird, which might also fit their needs.

    the following page, linux section, shows some tools to open/convert pst files. maybe these help next time

  • @Julian thanks for that. unfortunately my parents wanted a good calender/tasklist integration which thunderbird just doesn’t offer in the same quality as outlook..

  • julian

    have your parents tried lightning (thunderbird addon), handles local and remote calendars with ease.

    placing the remote calendars on a nas/webdav sever enables shared calendars.

    the only thing which is not as good as in outlook, is the event/invitation management via email.

    thunderbird also privides a nice tasklist.

  • qjulian basically I didn’t try it because I know that they are used to outlook and tb/lightening is quite a different story. If I would’ve seen a chance to convert them to another tool it would’ve been google though..



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