The year 2000 started out as a brilliant year. After having survived the biggest potential threat of Mankind, i.e. the millennium bug, it appeared that nothing really happened.
We all thought that we had managed to take our technological world safely into a new millennium. But the year quickly turned out to be a terrible year. The IT bubble burst. What appeared to be brilliant companies funded by billions of dollars was just a big bubble blowing hot air into the cold night. Even then the thought of having IT “in the cloud” was long-wanted, but the technology was not supporting the ideas and hence all the good ideas vanished along with the invested capital. In those days the ‘cloud’ was more called ‘ASP’.
But back to the subject. Let’s look at the email landscape in the year 2000.
The Release of Office 2000 and Exchange 2000
This year Microsoft came out with two major releases: Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 followed by the Office 2000 package with Outlook 2000. These were some of the biggest releases of all times in just one year apart from Windows 2000 obviously.
Finally, we saw a corporate mail server that actually worked (so-so) and an email program Outlook 2000 that was stable and useful for users. It was a nightmare to set it all up because everything was manual and there was not really such a thing as a true global deployment of software. So this caused a lot of work on IT departments with first to install the Exchange Server and then Outlook to be able to connect to Exchange. Of course, numerous companies shot up offering help to companies with Exchange architecture and deployment.
Outlook 2000 started out like this:
A “brilliant” feature was that animated GIFs could be shown in the email. This allowed everyone to show some more lively content in the emails. It was very controversial at the time because it would show any content and there was no such thing as serious security. Https was only for the rich and security has just slowly begun finding its place in the market. The display of animated GIFs stopped in later versions of Outlook but can still be seen today in e.g. Mac Mail and in browser-based email programs.
Improved Email Signature Capabilities
The ultimate best thing about Outlook 2000 was that Microsoft had significantly improved email signature capabilities! In addition, it was now possible to include pictures, which did not always disappear at the recipient. Rich text-based signatures were improved over Outlook 98 but were essentially as bad as it has always been. It is still a mystery today what the Rich text format is doing in emails and it has caused nothing but problems ever since it was introduced.
But it was possible to see the signature as the email was composed, including the image, and everything looked smooth. Just until the email was received and then nothing looked as it should.
Clippy is still with us in Outlook 2000.
You might ask “what about Lotus Notes” and other both corporate and consumer email solutions? I was never a Lotus Notes fan so sorry, I did not find space for it in this post…
Bonus info: The first ever camera phone was introduced! A 0.11 megapixel 256-color display on the J-Phone!