I spent most of my career working in the desktop world, and despite the obvious shift towards web-based applications, there are still hundreds of millions of users who rely on Outlook. I was one of those users for a decade, and I still haven't found anything online that functions nearly so well as an integrated communications hub. It's a shame that desktop-only startups don't get their fair share of attention, so I was pleased to see ClearContext's latest Outlook plugin get some love from GigaOm.
I've known their founder Deva Hazarika for several years, and was initially intrigued when I learned he'd raised his seed funding by playing poker! It's an unusual company in a lot of other ways too. They have an old-fashioned business model in that they are focused on making money through selling downloadable software to customers. What a crazy idea, eh? It's led them to be fanatical about improving their product, since they have to wow their end users in order to make any money.
The Personal edition they've just launched is interesting because it's their first free offering, and works as a showcase for some of the cool features they add on to Outlook. In particular they bring a priority inbox-like experience to the system, along with some very handy pre-populated rules for recognizing and filing common bacn emails like Facebook notifications.
Anyway, if you're an Exchange user looking jealously at the latest Gmail Labs creations, give ClearContext a try, they add a lot to Outlook.