Prospect Mail | Best Microsoft Outlook Experience on openSUSE

I think it’s terrible when “best” is ever used in a title, but I have to say that this is absolutely true, at least, calling it the best experience for me. I’ve not really been a huge fan of Outlook due to some of its quirky behavior and the technical support that I have had to give others with it but it is a pretty solid product that does its job well enough. I had been some years since I have used for which it hasn’t really changed in that time, good, bad or otherwise. Immediately, I want to echo the statement in the Github project page that this is an unofficial email Outlook client. It is powered by the Web App which wraps it as a standalone application using Electron. This application only works for Microsoft/Office 365 accounts and it cannot be used for personal Outlook.com accounts.

I have taken a new position with a new company and I call the shots, at least some of them, when it comes to choosing technology. That includes hardware, software, policies and the like. That means, I have chosen to largely move away from Windows as my Desktop and instead, using openSUSE Tumbleweed and for Outlook, I am using Prospect Mail. There are some limitations, but depending on how you use Outlook, it may not even be an issue.

Installation

My preferred software delivery method for “installing” Prospect Mail is with the use of the AppImage. Since I use AppImageLauncher as my AppImage Manager on openSUSE it behaves as though it is an installed application so I am happy with that whole process. There were no issues in this process at all and I have upgraded versions and I am happy with the user experience.

If you prefer there is a build available in the Snap Store.

Setup

If you are familiar with logging into Microsoft accounts, this will have the same familiarity. There are no surprises or “gotchas” in any aspect of setting it up. If your organization uses two-factor authentication (2FA) this will work just as well.

Personalization

There are a few things I require when using an application, happily, I need a dark mode and as a bonus, if I can get some green highlights to match or at least come close to the green of my openSUSE desktop theme, that is all the better.

I can’t say I am a huge fan of Outlook but the fact that you can make as many adjustments to improve your user experience is really quite fantastic and is something that I thought was a think of the past in the world of Microsoft.

User Experience

As far as Outlook goes, Prospect Mail is a very pleasant experience. I know that it is not much more than a wrapper around the Outlook Web App but it is so convincingly like the actual thing that I truly can’t pick out much of a difference.

Some lag moving between the sections, mail, calendar, tasks, etc but not much worse than the actual Windows client. It is clearly a bit laggy and that will largely depend on your internet connection and how the Microsoft Office 365 servers are feeling that day.

Using Prospect Mail, coupled with Junction, I can very easily open links into Edge, which is logged into my Microsoft account or if I want to redirect a link into Firefox because it is something that falls more into the realm of personal project or something to research outside of office hours, I can do so.

What I Like

It just works and, ironically, it tends to work better than the naive application on Windows. Not all aspects but for the most part, the general experience is more positive. I may look into adding this as a option on my Windows machine but just for the convenience factor.

Perhaps the biggest positive of this application is that It provides me the freedom to work exclusively on a Linux desktop for which I am far more comfortable and efficient. I have tried, and I just do not care for the Microsoft Windows desktop. The tools just don’t make me happy add a computer, which you spend many hours per day performing tasks, should be a place that provides some degree of pleasure to use and I have that in openSUSE Tumbleweed with the Plasma desktop environment.

Having the freedom to tweak the theme of the interface, just as I like is a huge win for me. I do mean huge win. This is a gift from the Microsoft developers and I am amazed that they made such efforts for their users. I have, certainly, taken advantage of this and modified the look to have a dark theme with green accents to give it that perfect look, just for me.

What I Don’t Like

It is a web app and has that web app feel about it in some parts. The lagging between modules is noticeable. Since Prospect Mail is a well crafted wrapper, it does a great job of fooling me into thinking that this is an application running natively in Linux, I often forget this but there are moments where you just see it and that does knock some of the shine off of it.

This will only work for Microsoft Office 365 accounts, not anything else, so be aware of that if you are interested in trying this out. It is unfortunate that it isn’t more flexible but that is a limitation from Microsoft, not a limitation imposed by the developers of Prospect Mail.

That’s really it. I have no other complaints. It’s been super reliable and as far as Outlook goes, it is what it is.

Final Thoughts

Prospect Mail is the best Microsoft Outlook experience you can have with desktop Linux. Running this on my openSUSE Tumbleweed machine with Plasma as my desktop environment has made my acceptance of the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem a lot easier of a pill to swallow.

It is pretty incredible that today in 2023, I am able to play ice in the Microsoft ecosystem. Sure, I may not be a “first class citizen” there but I have just enough software to allow me to get the work that I need to do completed in the environment of my choice. If you find this application valuable, it is very easy to make a donation as a thank you to the developer. I hope he continues to maintain this and help me get my work done to make my life bit better.

References

Prospect Mail Project Page and Download
Junction | Application Chooser for Hyperlinks
AppImageLauncher | AppImage Manager on openSUSE
openSUSE Breeze Dark Plasma Style
Get openSUSE

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