The Killer Kontact
"The Killer App" is a term that even a simple end-user like myself has
heard about. It usually means "success" for a platform and an
Success with KDE is a very important thing, as I see it. "Killer App"
for me conveys the idea that KDE has "made it" into the real world where
people can use it as a tool to actually facilitate every day functions.
One of the huge reasons I switched from Microsoft to Linux around a
year ago was because Outlook
was eating all of my mail. This would happen on average every three to
six months, and there was simply nothing that I could do about it. The
classic "format and reinstall" solution had become such a feared
process for me that I simply didn't want to have anything to do with
computers any longer.
Then, Linux came into my life. Linux, KDE, and KMail to run it on. Three things
which ultimately converted me from wanting to throw my computer off of
the Empire State Building in slow motion for a Dave Letterman video,
to never wanting to leave my computer because I actually use it
productively all the time without fear of ever losing my data again.
KMail is a beautiful email program. It was, however, very different
from Outlook. It wasn't groupware, and it only deals with email. If I
wanted my address list to come up in a more complete fashion than just
a click-list, I would have to open KAddressBook. For
my calendar, KOrganizer would
do the trick. I need to jot down some notes? Well, naturally, one
turns to KNotes.
As you can see, this is an entirely different philosophy from Outlook
which incorporates everything into one single program. I had to relearn
to use different applications for different things - a sort of Linux
purist philosophy which I became accustomed to and even fond of over
The idea which I loved behind KMail and all the others is their apparent
integration into the desktop of KDE. This gave me the illusion that my
entire desktop was like a big Outlook program, but (naturally)
infinitely better. (And don't flame me for comparing KDE to Outlook -
I'm only using it as an example. I wouldn't wipe my feet on Outlook
anymore while KDE is, naturally, the holy of holies =) )
However, there were some things I did miss from Outlook. And since I
use two email accounts (one for business and one for personal) I would
separate them by using KMail for one and Evolution for
another. This wasn't done because KMail couldn't handle the
functionality of having multiple accounts, but simply because I had
the option with Linux of doing so rather easily.
Now, as everyone knows, Evolution is very much like Outlook. In fact, it
is disturbingly like Outlook. But there was something which reminded me
of the things which I did admire about Outlook.
Outlook is one of Microsoft's "Killer Apps", and rightly so. It is
great, for instance, to be able to instantly click on an integrated
icon in a program and have a selection of all your email addresses
without having to pull up a separate program for it. I did miss that
feature. And when somebody emails me an appointment, it was nice in
Outlook to simply to add it into the calendar with a single click,
rather than having to copy/paste the contents of the email from one
program into another, like I do with KMail and KOrganizer.
But now...now, I will have the option of doing both. And what's better
yet, I will have the option of doing both with my KDE PIM applications.
Kontact is a new program which is currently in development. Kontact is a
PIM integrator. Kontact gives you the options which I simply adore and,
when it is finished, will be another "Killer App" for KDE.
I pull up Kontact and I get four programs housed in a shell: KMail,
KOrganizer, KAddressBook, and KNotes -- the standard Outlook shell
(only much nicer because I use Mosfet Liquid and Keramik with
Icons, and nothing in Outlook looks this good).
On the left side, you have your basic icons to switch between functions,
and the right side contains the application you are currently focused
on. You also will have a summary/daily preview with weather and all the
lovely overviews you get in Evolution and Outlook which make sorting out
your day so much easier.
Now, as I said, it is in development and that means it isn't even ready
for a preview yet. Kontact is being updated every single day by a
dedicated team of developers which I had the good fortune of
And while it isn't ready for a preview yet, I can see great things for
it, and KDE.
Kontact isn't Outlook, however. While interviewing the Developers for
Kontact, I was told that they will be using other PIM suites as a
model but that they expect to do many new things. So don't expect an
Outlook model -- and I for one am grateful for that. For instance,
KNotes should remain on your desktop whether or not Kontact is running
(Outlook cannot do this). Other features such as this will make it
much more powerful than the Microsoft equivalent.
Kontact is what KDE needs, and needs badly. An integrated PIM with all
functions talking to each other is an invaluable piece of software for
any desktop in a business environment at the very least. Most people
don't understand why it is a great idea to be able to run several
programs separately and they want every program to do everything for
them. I'm not that silly, but I do see their point of view: I want the
functionality of Outlook coupled with the power of KDE desktop and
The Kontact Devs tell me that it is being planned for release with KDE
3.2. For now, you can use Evolution if you really want that
Outlook functionality, or you can be like me and mostly use KMail and
your desktop as the real PIM. But I suggest you check out Kontact when
it does come out. It will be something important for the KDE and Linux
community as a whole. Even in development, it looks simple and
friendly to use.
But here is one of the most important aspects of Kontact: with the Kolab server application, Kontact
will be out there to rival and challenge the Outlook/Exchange server
model. This is a "Killer Business App" which KDE has been in need for
so long now. In fact, this is an incredibly big step for the KDE
community in the business world. With Kolab's client functionality
integrated into Kontact, businesses will have a perfect groupware
software package to link all of their computers together, and at a
dramatically reduced cost than buying licenses for every Microsoft
Outlook and Exchange server computer which they need to use. Now, they
will be able to get that functionality integrated and packaged in the
best of desktops: KDE with Kontact. Suddenly, KDE will go from being a
desktop user system to an integrated business groupware system as
So give it a few months time and get ready for something new on the
horizon; something which other Outlook users will go "wow" at; something
which will put KDE on the map even more; and something which everyone
will be given the option to use in the best of the spirit of Linux and
Watch out for Kontact.