I have used Outlook in the past. I really like the calendar/reminder functions. In the past it was poorly written bloatware though. Has this gotten any better recently? I want to move my mail off webhosts onto a local program so I don't have to keep firefox open as much. Are there any good calendar programs. preferably with email integration, that are less bulky? It's probably not as big a deal with my current set-up, but I don't want to have to change programs later. Also, does Outlook have a way to back-up it's data reliably?
I've used Outlook 2010 for a time, and it at least seems pretty responsive and quick, and it does have some things about it I like, but ultimately I find that the combination of Thunderbird and Lightning are much more flexible, if a little rough around the edges. In particular I am very enamored with Thunderbird's ability to search email quickly, and the ability to quickly drill down into the results of a generic search to narrow the results down. I also prefer having a unified inbox. Plus the integration with Google's calendar is pretty seamless with Lightning, whereas you need a special helper program from Google to get two-way syncing with Outlook.
I will say that on the whole Outlook seems to have improved, but it still kind of seems like Microsoft is still failing to learn some of the lessons from the rise of Google and Gmail, such as search don't sort. And given Thunderbird and the Lightning extension for it are both free, might be worth a quick spin before plunking down the cash for Outlook.
I have read a little about thunderbird. I am looking for standalone options otherwise I'll stick with the websites. I don't use google calendar. I am not anti-google, but I try not to give them too much information. I am currently using yahoo but looking for something local.
Thunderbird is the email counterpart to Firefox, and Lightning is an extension to Thunderbird that adds calendaring functions. It can do local calendars, same as Outlook.
That also outlines the standalone Sunbird which is just a calendar program, but you did say you were looking more for something that works in conjunction with an email client, and that's what Lightning is. It's not quite as robust as Outlook as far as supporting a large company, but for a single person it has probably all the important core features you'd need.