October 15, 2015

A majority of the world processes an almost innumerable number of emails on a daily basis.  If you’re like us, you separate out the messages into three groups: the very important ones that require a reply or acknowledgment in short order; the somewhat important that requires attention before your head hits the pillow for the night; and finally the ones you only read when you have nothing left or want a brain-break.

For the majority of the business world, all that email winds up in a program called Outlook.  For those who don’t know, Microsoft Outlook is far and away the most used email program.  It is the personal information manager component of the Microsoft Office suite, serving as the helpful tool that organizes a user’s email, calendars, contacts, and more.

And while Outlook is a powerful tool, it does not "provide" you your email.  It doesn't give you an email address or a web domain.  The work to get you your email is done (in most cases) by one of four sight unseen technologies: Exchange (Microsoft), Gmail (Google), POP (from a multitude of providers), and IMAP (also from a multitude of providers).

In using Outlook to read, send, and organize their email, Outlook users are actually connecting to one of these technologies and Outlook is providing an organization for all the email data flowing to your address.  (There are numerous differences among these technologies, but that's for another post.)  The technoligies manage where your emails are stored, how they're processed, and what other functions you can perform on each email.  Outlook, therefore, is merely the software through which you receive and transmit messages.

So next time you open Outlook, think of it as the key that starts the engine to power your email communications.  And remember, just like a car, you don't see the engine, but you know its moving you forward (backward and around corners).