Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lotus Notes vs Outlook : Advantages and Limitations

Lotus Notes and MS Outlook are the two most widely used email applications. However, there are many users, who prefer using MS Outlook as compared to Lotus Notes. As a result, you can find more Outlook users as compared to Lotus Notes. MS Outlook is an email client from Microsoft, which aims at providing an effective and secured mailing platform. In addition, there are several other benefits of using MS Outlook as compared to Lotus Notes. Some of them are mentioned below.

Economical and Easy to Maintain

MS Outlook is an independent application. However, it also forms a part of the MS Office suite. On the other hand, Lotus Notes can only be used as a separate application. The advantage of MS Outlook being a part of the MS Office is that, you just have to pay for MS Office to get the benefit of MS Outlook along with other applications. In addition, the cost associated with maintaining MS Outlook is less as compared to Lotus Notes.

Single Login for Multiple Accounts

With MS Outlook, you can use a single login window to manage multiple accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. at the same time. However, you need to have a separate login for each account in case of Lotus Notes. Having a single login for multiple accounts is a great feature in MS Outlook, which saves a lot of time.


Since, both MS Outlook and Lotus Notes are email clients, they both offer a basic set of mailing features like Contact, Calendaring, Messaging, Database Management, etc. However, MS Outlook provides some better advanced features to cater the business needs.

Graphical User Interface

MS Outlook is the most popular email client among the users. It uses a very simple and interactive interface. Thus, it avoids any need to have a technical expertise to use the tool. On the other hand, Lotus Notes lacks some key features, which make the interface very complicated to use. Moreover, due to the fact that the Lotus Notes is not so popular, a new user would take the time to understand the unfamiliar interface.

The above-mentioned points are generic with most versions of MS Outlook and Lotus Notes. However, you can find few specific advantages or limitations while working with any specific versions of MS Outlook and Lotus Notes.  
Consider a scenario, where you are working with Lotus Notes 6.5. While working with Lotus Notes 6.5, you might face the following challenges.

1. With soft deletes enabled, you cannot restore an email from the trash to the Inbox, by just drag and drop. Instead, you need to use the restore command.

2. If you would send an email to the people involved in an unscheduled meeting, you will get a message saying ‘You are not authorized to perform that operation'. You can also get this message if you select 'Send memo to all invitees' menu command in Lotus Notes.

3. With an every new mail, you will get a display message asking you to refresh your Inbox. Rather, it should have directly updated the Inbox with the new message.

4. While the Notes is displaying the Trash folder, and you create a new email from outside Notes, you will get the Trash folder command asking you to restore the new email before sending it. However, in a normal scenario, you will get the ‘Restore’ and ‘Delete’ command options if the email is in the trash. For any other folder, you will get 'Reply', 'Reply To All', 'Forward', etc. commands.

5. To delete a document from the current view, the Notes displays it in a view, where you again have to press the delete button. In addition, it gives the following message, which looks very illogical.

 ‘The document could not be deleted because you currently have the same document open in the preview pane. This document will now be closed so that it may deleted from the current view'

6. While scheduling a meeting, you might face some repeating functionalities. In case of repeating meetings, you need to cancel the meeting and reschedule it. While doing so, Notes informs all of the invitees that the meeting has been cancelled. This could result in an accumulation of many meetings and cancelled meetings notice in the Inboxes of all invites.

7. At times, when you press ‘Delete’ after selecting some text in a message, nothing would happen. However, if you would deselect the text in the message, and hit the 'Delete' button again, the text would get deleted. There is as such no logic behind this issue, but you might come across this problem while working with Lotus Notes 6.5.

From the above comparison of Outlook and Notes, it is clear that the MS Outlook is far better email client than Lotus Notes. So, if you are working on Lotus Notes and want to avail the benefits of MS Outlook, you need to access your Notes data in Outlook. Since, Outlook uses a PST file format and Lotus Notes uses NSF file format, which are very different from each other, it is required to convert data from NSF file format to PST. This can be done, by using a migration tool to migrate from Lotus Notes to MS Outlook. Since, there is no such in-built mechanism to migrate from Lotus Notes to MS Outlook; it is recommended having a professional tool to do this task.