Tag Archives: microsoft

My yearly Outlook pattern, short version

“Outlook”, Microsoft’s email client from their “Office Suite” software, is still an important tool, for me. Despite the existence of strong alternatives, namely Mozilla’s Thunderbird, I have hacked my way around Outlook – the 2016 version, to be exact. I use it strictly as an email client, no calendar, no tasks, zero cloud integrations. It has not been trivial: some modern security features are not available; for example, to connect to Gmail accounts, one has to force “allow less secure access” on Google’s side.

For me, it is fundamental to steer away from the poisoned convenience of web mail solutions: I say no to all WWW-based email interface systems. This includes Microsoft’s own “Outlook” cloud mail and Google’s Gmail. Slowly, but surely, such systems diminish the user’s email autonomy: if one loses internet access, or wants to programmatically search decade+ old messages, one comes to an halt, if the approach is totally cloud-dependent and no local offline backups exist.

“Outlook” stores its messages in “.PST” files. What follows is my usage pattern. If you decide to try it, before proceeding, make sure you know how to configure “Outlook”, namely that you are capable of setting a custom “default data file” store for all the messages. You must also have comfort with .PST files and know their location; then, browse to the location of the *.PST files; close “Outlook”, and create a backup of all existing *.PST files.

Here is what I do:

  • keep one .PST file per year; in my case, every .PST file grows to around ~10 GB before getting retired;
  • name the default .PST file something year neutral; for example “current_year.pst”;
  • when the year ends, close “Outlook”, rename “current_year.pst” to an adequate name for the year that gets “retired”, such as “2021.pst”;
  • relaunch “Outlook”; the software will NOT find the “retired” default destination PST data file and will ask to create a new one, with a name and location of your choice. Keep the name configured as the default destination data file (e.g. “current_year.pst”) and keep all the *.PST data files in the same folder.
  • with “Outlook” running, go to File > account settings > account settings > “data files” tab > “add” button, and browse to the “2021.pst” file, to make it available.

That is it – the new year messages will be arriving to the same, previously configured data file (now empty), without breaking any rules set, or any email account’s settings. The past year messsages are all still available in the just added .PST data file. Easy organization. Offline email. Ready for another year.

Trying to opt-out of Microsoft's Viva emails?

The most you can do to opt-out of “Microsoft Viva” emails is to go to


and to switch off “Cortana Briefing”.

This is an invasive, unnecessary, never requested feature, that harvests your data – namely emails – for situations like appointments, compromises assumed with other people, etc.

Odds are that you will stop receiving the “Viva” emails, but your data will remain training the Cortana agent, which is unfortunate.

The extreme disrespect Microsoft has for its users

It is almost unreal that after all these years, on the verge of 2022, Microsoft, with its nearly unlimited material resources, keeps its Windows 10 Edge browser stealing file associations against the user’s explicit and repeatedly assumed options, regarding default apps.

I am so annoyed to have to change my PDF viewer option to my favorite software for the task, nearly every single day, that I had to write it out. For me, Microsoft Edge is “irritation software”, a non-tool, an app that serves no other true purpose than to upload its users’ data to the Microsoft cloud. There is nothing in the Edge software that users can not find in alternatives, some genuinely transparent, obeying, and open source, namely in Mozilla’s Firefox, including the support for vertical tabs which – for me – is a must, and is lacking in most Web browsers. It is just horrible.

Some users are to blame. For the convenience of not having to redo their preferences, they stick and comply to Edge’s clepto dictatorship.

This is one of several annoyances in Windows 10, probably the most frequent, but NOT the most time-consuming one. The problem that has burned me the most time is the “no Internet connection available” FALSE connectivity information.

This problem can arise in a multitude of situations, but the odds of it happening are higher in systems with more than one NIC (Network Interface Card) and/or when users run their own DNS server. In these scenarios, the ridiculous service “Network Location Awareness” (NLA) might fail to properly process what is set in Windows’ registry at


There, Microsoft sets some callback URLs, which are regularly contacted (keys “ActiveDnsProbeContent”, “ActiveDnsProbeContentV6”), resolved via specific DNS hosts (keys “ActiveDnsProbeHost”, “ActiveDnsProbeHostV6”), and expected to regularly answer certain data (set in keys “ActiveWebProbeContent” and “ActiveWebProbeContentV6”).
This is a miserable, absurdly bad design option, disconnected from other network configurations.

If a NIC is set to a “private” network, that uses its own custom DNS resolver – as in my case – the NLA service might consider that the entire system is without Internet connection, even if other NICs do have access. Or, at least, that is what is always happening with me. It is oh so frustrating.

To aggravate the ridiculousness, if one searches for solutions, the top results tend to be Microsoft’s own “answers” sites, which answer absolutely nothing. Those Microsoft forums consist of threads that read as nightmares. People respond with mechanically scripted texts that go around most problems’ essence.
Search engines are at blame here too, for ranking such garbage sites so high.

Having to systematically fix the same problems, again and again, is an offense to productivity. It simply should not happen.
For users to think this is a justifiable behavior from a company the size of Microsoft to let these situations go on, for 10+ years now, sets an incredible low, extremely negative standard, to everyone else. “Oh time and data are so precious, but let us push people to waste them, just because we can and it is nice to milk their corresponding data”.

Shame on you Microsoft. It should not be as it is. You are doing many things wrong.