Microsoft allows outsiders to peek inside Outlook

Software maker offers two tools to give developer a way to view Outlook data files without needing to have the e-mail and calendar program itself.

Microsoft announced on Monday two open-source projects that let developers view data from Outlook without the need for the e-mail and calendar program itself.

One is a software development kit for reading the .pst files that Outlook uses to save personal files; the other is a graphical tool for viewing the internal data structure of the .pst files.

"Combined, the documentation and tools advance interoperability with data stored in .pst files, reflecting customer requests for greater access to data stored and shared in digital formats generated by Microsoft Outlook and for enhanced data portability," Microsoft said on its interoperability Web site.

Both tools are posted under an Apache 2.0 license on the CodePlex site.

The move builds on Microsoft's announcement last October to open up Outlook's .pst file format. . The documentation itself was posted in February. Microsoft said the new graphical tool released Monday will offer a better understanding of the documentation released in October.

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