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New apps teach Outlook new tricks

Jul 28, 20033 mins

Add-ins provide a collaborative workspace and enhanced cell phone links.

Add-ins provide a collaborative workspace and enhanced cell phone links.

Many of us “live” inside our e-mail applications, and for 85% of us that means Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express. Two new tools aim to make that home a better place.

Start-up Kubi Software recently debuted a collaborative workspace that’s ideal for small businesses. Kubi Client and Kubi Server (which is optional). Kubi “lives” in Outlook, Outlook Express (or Lotus Notes), too, creating a portal-like environment with a special home page within Outlook’s view window. Messages from other Kubi users automatically flow into the “KubiSpace,” which appears as a set of custom shared folders. Kubi organizes the information into task lists, attached documents, discussion threads and the like. It integrates well and looks like a natural part of Outlook, not a portal application.

Kubi features include customized discussion lists, task lists, contact files, project timelines, recent activity lists and special summary home pages for each defined project. Rather than searching hundreds of e-mails for project messages, Kubi automatically files project details in your Kubi project folders.

For companies that don’t want (or can’t afford) a server, Kubi Client provides all the functionality of Kubi Client and Kubi Server. When using Kubi Client alone, information sent by one user in the group gets copied to everyone as peer-to-peer e-mail, a method some will see as a waste of disk space, others a distributed back-up feature. Kubi doesn’t require an Exchange Server either, which makes it ideal for small companies that rely on their ISPs’ POP3 servers for e-mail service. (Of course, adding the Kubi Server gives you centralized data storage and streamlined e-mail distribution.)

Last, the Kubi Client is affordable at $149 per user, with discounts for groups of clients. If you give it a try, please write me and let me know what you think.

Xpherix’s iPhoneBook aims to simplify the coordination of your Outlook and Outlook Express contact list with your new model cell phone. The iPhoneBook software on your computer uploads changes to Xpherix’s secure servers. When you look for contact info on your phone, the phone contacts the Xpherix servers for the data. This means your contacts are always updated and you’re not limited to the number capacity of your phone. I spoke to a public relations manager who relies on his phone to get any work done. For him, having contact names and numbers loaded automatically in his phone meant he could leave his PDA behind and avoid booting his laptop to search for a phone number.

Xpherix sells the service through several cell phone providers – Verizon, Qualcomm and U.S. Cellular – for an additional $4 per month. If an infinite phone list and the ability to leave your PDA at home is worth $1 per week to you, check it out.