I use a free service from Microsoft that lets me send SMS text messages from Outlook 2007 to cell phones. Sending text messages from my mobile device takes too long using the stylus and touch-screen keyboard. But since many people prefer texting, this plug-in allows me to send messages from email.
Microsoft plans to discontinue its SMS Link Service for Outlook 2007 on August 26, 2009. Fortunately, other providers will continue to offer this service.
Your choice of service providers will vary depending on geographic location and cellular service provider. In the U.S., there are three available providers.
SMSOfficer's pricing plans are based on credits. In other words, you have to buy a block of credits and each allows you to send one text message. As of July 2009, a block of 500 credits sold for $29, with larger blocks offered at a discounted rate. A block of 5,000 credits currently costs $244. SMSOfficer also offers a monthly plan for $9 that includes 100 credits.
SMSOfficer also allows you to send meeting reminders and email alerts to a cell phone.
- Red Oxygen
Red Oxygen is similar to SMSOfficer in that it fully supports Outlook contacts, and can send calendar reminders. However, Red Oxygen also lets you schedule messages that will be sent even if your computer is turned off at the scheduled delivery time.
Red Oxygen offers more than a dozen different pricing plans, but is more expensive than SMSOfficer. Currently, a block of 500 credits (pre-paid) costs $54.
Bulletin.net offers the same set of features as Red Oxygen. The service supports meetings and email alerts, receiving text message replies via Outlook as well as message scheduling.
Bulletin.net offers the simplest pricing plan of the three services. In the U.S., outbound text messages cost $0.10; there is no charge for receiving replies. Although no rates are listed, the Bulletin.net website indicates that special pricing is available for multi-user and high-volume accounts.
Keep in mind: Prices mentioned in this tip only reflect the cost of sending SMS text messages from Outlook. Many cellular providers charge additional fees for inbound text messages.
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a five-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his work with Exchange Server, Windows Server, Internet Information Services (IIS), and File Systems and Storage. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, Brien has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.
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