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Start Software is an award-winning developer and leading publisher of asbestos software, systems for the legal services industry and more.

Want to know more about asbestos software Alpha Tracker? Alpha Tracker is the most used asbestos software in the UK, Australia & New Zealand with more than 60m items of asbestos data stored.

Our legal services software Alpha Legal helps will writers, accountants, solicitors, IFAs and estate agents to communicate securely with clients. Read about developments here on the blog.

Or need help with Alpha Anywhere or Alpha Transform projects or software development? You'll find useful info here.

Outlook 2013 - sorry, I tried, but you've got to go!

We've been trialling Office 2013 here at Start to make sure that it is compatible with Tracker and our other software products (see this link for details of our testing) .

I personally spend most of my day in Outlook, reading and replying to emails, actioning tasks and organising my diary.  Outlook 2013 is pretty similar to Outlook 2010 but has a new look - very white and very "tablet" in style.

You wouldn't think that removing colour from a screen would make much difference, but - in fact - it has somehow made it really tiring on the eyes to use.  Other people have found the same thing and there are hundreds of posts on forums with people complaining about the same thing.

Microsoft responded by adding a couple of colour options to the final release version of Outlook 2013 but they made virtually no difference and using Outlook 2013 with my old eyes for more than an hour or so is almost painful!

There is also another change to Outlook 2013 which is a real pain and frankly bizarre.  With previous versions of Outlook you could use the Windows Start menu's search box to search your emails, appointments and tasks.  That's what the search box is there for?  In Outlook 2013 they have removed the feature with no explanation and no way of switching it back on!  Again, hundreds of people have spent time posting messages on Microsoft forums to complain and ask them for a solution with no response.

So, having persevered for 3 months, I've finally given up and switched back to Outlook 2010.  What a relief.  The fonts look better, the screen is clearer, I can search more easily and the whole experience is better.  As a self-confessed nerd and "early adopter" I can't believe I've gone backwards and switched from Windows 8 back to Windows 7 and from Office 2013 back to Office 2010 but they are simply better products.  Microsoft is losing the plot and losing ground (and sales) to Android (Google) and iOS (Apple).  No wonder and it will take some real common sense and strong leadership at the top of Microsoft to turn things around.


  1. I've only toyed with Office 2013 so far, and to be honest, it's a little odd. Simple things like the selection box in Excel seemingly 'running' from cell to cell is very distracting and pointless! Outlook 2013 wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of our 2003 Exchange server so had to go.

    Windows 8 however; the majority of people I speak to say that it's architecture is brilliant. Unfortunately it's hidden behind the Metro interface / UI which most find abhorrent (including myself). But installing classic shell (opensource / freeware) bypasses the metro interface on boot, provides all the standard Windows Start options via the classic interface (Start button) and even gives you a shortcut to the new 'apps.'

    It's still a little strange as I did like Aero, and it's somewhat harsh in comparison but it does seem stable and very nimble when in operation!

    Give me another month or so and I'll probably downgrade once more though!


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