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Text messaging with Microsoft Outlook 2003

Microsoft has published a new add-in for Outlook 2003 that allows users to send standard Short Message Service (SMS) text messages via Global

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System for Mobile Communication (GSM) mobile phones connected to the PC. No third-party software or additional services are needed as long as your phone service supports SMS text messaging and the phone can be connected to the PC via infrared, Bluetooth, or a serial or USB connection.

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One of the advantages of using this add-in is that outgoing SMS messages can be managed through Outlook the same as e-mails: you can compose drafts of messages, save them, print them out, forward them as e-mail, or forward e-mails as SMS. The full range of existing Outlook and Windows tools can also be applied to SMS messages -- spell checking, copy-and-paste, and so on. Copies of sent SMS messages can also be saved and organized like e-mail.

Once installed, the add-in will create a new toolbar named "Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 SMS Add-In" with a "New SMS Message" button on it. Click the button and you'll be prompted for a contact name or phone number (which you can look up in Outlook Contacts using the Mobile Phone field). Type the message in the "SMS Text" field, connect the phone to the PC and press Send (or hit Save to save the message in the Drafts folder).

The add-in has some limitations. It can't be used to manage incoming SMS messages, only to compose and send outgoing messages (although this may become possible in future versions). Only standard SMS message formats are supported -- Flash SMS and MMS will not work, nor will sending ring tones or graphics. Also, the add-in will not work with GSM phones that do not support the Protocol Description Unit (PDU) messaging standard.

Microsoft has the add-in available as a free (unsupported) download here.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter and a regular contributor to SearchExchange.com.

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You should note that the OS must be Windows XP.
—Mike M.

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This was first published in November 2004

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