AOL doesn't allow the use of Outlook for e-mail

Help Line

January 11, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have been connected to America Online for the nine months I have had my computer. I have Microsoft Outlook installed in my system and would like to know if I can use the e-mail portion with AOL. If I can, how do I get them to work together? The connection wizard seems to specify every other Internet service provider but not AOL.

You can't do what you want to do because Steve Case, CEO of America Online Inc. and one of the world's most brilliant marketing whizzes, doesn't want you to do that. But take heart: You represent a huge and growing number of people who are beginning to smell a rat and are clamoring for change.

The problem is that if AOL were to offer the same splendid e-mail service as other ISPs - called Pop Mail - the company would lose some of the lucrative advertising it sells on the e-mail displays built into AOL's own service. So despite promises made more than a year ago to incorporate Outlook into AOL mail by way of Pop Mail, it still isn't done.

This is sad, because e-mail software like Outlook or Eudora gives users far more capability than AOL's software.

About half the time when I try to open an Excel spreadsheet attached to e-mail, my Win98 computer will freeze and even CTRL-ALT-DEL has no effect. The On/Off button on the computer becomes inoperative. The only solution to gaining control is to unplug the computer to reboot.

This started shortly after purchase of the machine (400 megahertz) this summer. Win98 was an original installation.

Your nasty lock-up problem is becoming widespread as ever more computers are equipped with the Energy Star power management system endorsed by the federal government and intended to automatically shut down monitors and hard drives after varying periods of disuse to save energy. The bug bites when a glitch elsewhere triggers the Energy Star standby function.

Once the computer goes on standby, it is supposed to resume when you press any key. But because there is another glitch - the Excel hang-up in this case - the standby software can no longer respond to a keystroke and restore power. Since the standby function also overrides the on/off button on the front of most PCs, the only choice is to pull the plug.

To fix things, right-click on the desktop and go to Properties and then Screen saver. Then set the power management timer to Never.

I suspect that your Excel problem is that when you click the icon in your e-mail program to open a spreadsheet, the next dialog box is popping up behind the window with the e-mail so you can't see it.

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