Microsoft to release Outlook .PST format specifications

By on October 26, 2009, 8:11 PM
Microsoft announced in a blog post today that it plans to release the documentation for the .PST file format in an effort to support interoperability. The .PST files are used to store various types of data, such as email, calendar, and contacts in Outlook Personal Folders. Microsoft wants vendors and customers to be able to access the data in .PST files on a variety of platforms, so developers can read, create, and interoperate the information stored within.

While Microsoft is just getting started on the documentation, the company is working directly with industry experts and customers to gather feedback to ensure that it is clear and useful. When the technical documentation is complete, it will be released under their Open Specific Promise, which will permit anyone to implement the .PST format on any platform and in any tool, without having to contact Redmond or worry about patents.




User Comments: 7

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Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

This is huge for Outlook users who have had to deal with somewhat obscure PST files for backing up and transferring data. It should also work well for the purpose of switching to other mail clients, interoperability among them and operating systems as well.

Guest said:

I remember spending many nights, some billable and some non-billable hours, wrestling with bloated 1-2 GB pst files, farting around with scanpst.exe and checking directory paths so some client's LookOut would be all ready in the morning again.

Not sure which one is scarier -- pst format files or the Windows Registry.

DarkCobra DarkCobra said:

Julio is so right. This is an enormous leap for MS! The .pst format has been so mysterious and proprietary to MS for so long. Easing the coding and make it more transferable will be a tremendous help for all concerned. Hopefully our contacts and e-mail archives will someday be more usable and compatible with cell phones and other devices. I'm frankly shocked that MS would even consider this move but pleasantly surprised and happy they are leaning in this direction. I normally have taken MS to task for so much but I have to say I'm proud of them for this move.

Guest said:

Good progress. If only they would also release the NTFS specifications and be done with it.

But haven't non-microsoft people figured out the PST file format already?? Thunderbird, among others, can import the messages as-is.

http://www.five-ten-sg.com/libpst/rn01re06.html

Didou Didou, Bowtie extraordinair!, said:

This PST file is one of the arguments I would use to convince people to move to Eudora at first & then Thunderbird when Eudora got discontinued. Having everything in one big file was a really bad idea.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

Guest said:

Good progress. If only they would also release the NTFS specifications and be done with it.

But haven't non-microsoft people figured out the PST file format already?? Thunderbird, among others, can import the messages as-is.

http://www.five-ten-sg.com/libpst/rn01re06.html

But if MS released NTFS specifications, Linux users would know exactly why ext is superior, and probably die of laughter reading the specifications.Mac users would ask what a file system is...and then pay $1.29 for a "hot" song on itunes...

limpangel limpangel said:

While this might be important news for XP and Outlook users, it is useless for Vista/7 Windows Mail witch uses another format to store mails, contacts, etc.

Microsoft is releasing documentation for technology it doesn't use or develop any more, so I don't see what's the big fuss. (they've done this in the past)

On the other side, Microsoft might be releasing the documentation in order to "help" bussineses transit easier from XP to 7, whitch is again for its own benefit.

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