Microsoft opens up the Outlook PST data format

Microsoft always planned to open up the Outlook PST data format in 2010 and last week it made good on its promises by releasing a technical structure specification document.

Paul Lorimer, Group Manager of Microsoft Office Interoperability, confirmed the company continuously received feedback regarding improved access to email, calendar, contacts, and other data generated by Microsoft Outlook. The PST format is used to store data ranging from email to calendar and contacts and allows for users to export and import that data within Microsoft Outlook.

Microsoft hopes by making the documentation available that partners and customers will have greater opportunities to make use of the PST format. Allowing the PST format to be documented and open will allow web mail providers like Gmail and social networking sites like Facebook to better import data from Microsoft's Outlook application. Lorimer said "we’re proud of the work we’ve done in this area, and you can count on Microsoft to continue its vigorous pursuit of interoperability through a comprehensive approach, of which transparency is one of the keystones."

View: Outlook Personal Folders File Format (.pst) Structure Specification

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32 Comments

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Outlook already has a heavily scriptable object model, so what more, exactly, will one be able to do (other than potentially corrupt a PST by not implementing something correctly)?

I honestly do not know ONE person that use Outlook for personal use. Professional yes, because that is decided by IT. Add yes Outlook has a web interface version but it's tied to the server, so it's not webmail like gmail or yahoo. So yes Outlook has long lost the battle for personal use - even if it upsets some of the fanboys above.

Outlook runs my life, period. One of my Apple nazi buddies keeps telling me to switch to "whatever". The fact is I'm used to Outlook and I will probably be using it till something hits me extremley hard in the face, which in all likelyhood will be never. So in the past I have been used to MS not doing a heck of a lot TO Outlook as far as improving it goes. I sat and watched while they did NOTHING, until 2010 beta. Outlook 2010 finally makes some progress, I just wish they would improve the paste funtion to include the last 5 items I copied. And after all these years I have discovered One Note, why did that take so long?

I don't know how they do it, but I can not SEND emails from my default email address which is Comcast, from whereever in the world I am. THAT is huge.

schwit said,
Why would a corporate environment permit saving to a PST file? Opening ... maybe.

Because some people don't delete anything so we make them archive to a PST.

PSTs are for POP3 accounts and local data. Most companies I know about use a server (Exchange or otherwise) and OSTs.
Is the spec for them being opened up too?

ThomMcK said,
PSTs are for POP3 accounts and local data. Most companies I know about use a server (Exchange or otherwise) and OSTs.
Is the spec for them being opened up too?

OST is essentially a PST file.

I personally love Outlook, it works well, and being able to have my .pst file on the companies server for easy backup, is great.

Its far from dead in the business world, every company ive ever been to... uses outlook.

WarioTBH said,
I personally love Outlook, it works well, and being able to have my .pst file on the companies server for easy backup, is great.
PSTs are unsupported on network locations so although it makes backups easy you won't get any official help if something in Outlook doesn't work

ThomMcK said,
PSTs are unsupported on network locations so although it makes backups easy you won't get any official help if something in Outlook doesn't work

Luckily I'm a computer nerd for a living, so if I ever get problems like that ill just research it myself and fix it myself I've not come across anything that doesn't work yet.

A major bonus for me also is being able to sync my BlackBerry with Outlook via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, its so simple to use and keeps my BlackBerry updated with my contacts and calendar appointments

Hm... This is good to see. I don't use Outlook at the moment (As it wasn't included in my Office package), but I still have my PST and would love to see if I could puts around in some of my files... Maybe now I'll be able to do that... :)

and for good reason, outlook is far from dead as it's a very good business PIM tool. It's fast and well designed around business acitivities, as nearly all business users store their business life in their inbox.

I'm glad they finally did this. I've been dying to know how to get in to a PST file thru code and without some ridiculous hack code.

Tony is right, not sure where you work dvb2000 but almost every large company uses Outlook. The new 2010 beta isn't too bad either.

Tony. said,
In the business world, Outlook is far from dead.

Exactly. And with SharePoint to complement Outlook, they've covered a lot of Lotus Notes functionality already!

thenonhacker said,

Exactly. And with SharePoint to complement Outlook, they've covered a lot of Lotus Notes functionality already!

And I'd say it is not dead in the home use either. I like Outlook and probably will never change.

gs

haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)


Not a chance. Outlook is everywhere.

Edit: I should elaborate that I mean everywhere in the corporate world.

Edited by Tim Dawg, Feb 23 2010, 8:52am :

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

Yeah, keep dreaming. MS is expanding Outlook to be able to do even more than just email. People are really liking 2010 as well, and I use 2007 alot.

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

Dude, we cannot compare apples to oranges.

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Only they can now do it in a documented way, instead of using hacks to do it.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

It's neither dead in the business world, nor the home segment.

Edited by iamwhoiam, Feb 23 2010, 10:18am :

dvb2000 said,

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

Give me a break; maybe it's dead in that you as an individual person don't use it, but there's no way I would use webmail (gmail's or any others) over having a client application on my computer where I can read my mail whether I have an Internet connection or not. Outlook is dead. Long live webmail? What are you smoking?

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

For home use, maybe, but not in corporate computing.

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)


Google Calendar Sync is great, but it tends to corrupt my PST more often than not. It will be nice having an open format; now we can get better tools to recover PST files.

On another note, will they be opening the OST format as well?

Tim Dawg said,

Not a chance. Outlook is everywhere.

Edit: I should elaborate that I mean everywhere in the corporate world.

The big banks are contemplating going to Gmail, it's only how much ill favour with M$ which might prevent this.

Non-tradefloor users are being migrated, front office is still being decided, certainly at my bank which is tier 1.

The main reason is a Gmail service will cost something like 1/10th of an exchange service, archiving etc all managed

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

WOW.

"Person who does NOT even UNDERSTAND Outlook" spotted!!!

thenonhacker said,

Dude, we cannot compare apples to oranges.

Yes we can and when you do you'll find apples and oranges have quite a few things in common.

dvb2000 said,
haha - too little too late. Gmail and all the others worked out long ago how to extract emails and addresses from Outlook.

Outlook is dead. Long live webmail :)

LOL! dvb2000, are you on crack? :P The last time I checked, Outlook is still dominant in the business world, and that's what my business uses.

Still, it's good news to hear the PST format will be opened up, which should make contact importation into webmail and other e-mail clients easier.

Solid Knight said,

Yes we can and when you do you'll find apples and oranges have quite a few things in common.

I like both apple juice and orange juice. But not together, that's just weird.

I only use web-based gmail for my personal email account.
For my work email I use Outlook, I really couldn't imagine replacing it with webmail at all.