Preliminary Product Review – Blown Away by Xobni

NB: This post is not about Silverlight; it is a short digression to share one of the cooler new products I’ve seen.  Xobni Outlook add-on is so amazingly useful and fast and solid, you may really want to take a look at it. The product name is xobni (inbox spelled backwards) and it is an Outlook add-on.

It does a lot of stuff, but the biggest is wicked-fast retrieval of anything Outlook knows about – that is your contacts, your email, etc.  More important, it combines that information in truly useful ways.

 

xobni1a

 

Click for Details

Each pane can be expanded, contracted, closed, etc.

There are a number of icons that supply additional details or connections to additional services (e.g., Facebook).

Any conversation can be opened and the conversation pane allows you to see the back and forth and who participated.

 

xobni2

Note the slider for details, sliding it to the left shrinks down how much you see of each message, but you can hover over a message to see more

 

xobni3

 

Here I’ve shrunk the detail all the way down to a single line, but when I hover over David’s message out pops a window with the full text, above which it provides the message header. Nice.

 

Gotta Love Stats

There is something about the statistics that really grabs me, though I’m not yet sure of what practical use they are… though my manager might be happy that I’m seeing that in the past couple months I’ve sent him 150 messages and received half a dozen from him, indicating that I’m probably copying him in too many conversations. So maybe the stats will be useful after all.

 

xobni4 

There’s a good bit more to explore, but my  initial impressions were so strongly favorable that I decided to put this right into the main blog; I’ll link to this from my Reviews and Recommendations page and follow up once I’ve used the product for a while.

Inexpensive, But Pricing Structure Is Unfortunate

My only complaint so far is around price.  They bring you in for the freebie, but it is pretty seriously limited.  Their comparison chart indicates that you have to move up to Pro to get a number of features, the  most important of which (in my opinion) is searching by full text.

I have to say, full text search seems almost the sine qua non of this kind of product and makes the free version almost, but not quite, crippledWare. That said, the pro version does come with a year of support and no ads and is only $29.

While I think folks should charge the market-clearing price for a product, and structure their sales however they feel is best, as a consumer I don’t love that they charge an additional $10 per computer. A significant number of their early adopters are going to be geeks, and we tend to have a number of computers. Charging per cpu strikes me as a tough pill to swallow.  I’d like to seem them offer an alternative where one license can be used on three machines (for example) so long as the email accounts are identical.

 

Summary

The truth is I won’t know until I live with it for a while, but initial impressions are very positive. It seems like the kind of product you could learn to love, and since it was endorsed by WinZip (though I have no idea if they’re involved financially) I’m pretty optimistic.

If you try it, let me know how it works out.

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About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty is an independent consultant and programmer with three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects. He is the author of 2 dozen books and multiple Pluralsight courses, and has been a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP, Microsoft MVP and Telerik MVP.
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