Last week I setup a new Windows 7 computer for a customer. They previously had Windows XP and were using Outlook Express as their mail client. They were not happy with the way Windows Live Mail worked and wanted to go to a more normal email client. Since it was a lawyer's office, the easiest answer was to install Outlook 2010 for them and import all of their old messages and contacts into it. I could make Outlook 2010 look roughly similar to Outlook Express and give them a short learning curve for the new computer.

Unfortunately, I ran into a problem during the conversion. There is no straight upgrade from Outlook Express to Outlook 2010. You can't just import the messages and contact list from the old Outlook Express Message Store into Outlook 2010. Instead, you have to use Windows Live Mail to act as an intermediary program. Microsoft really missed the boat on this one, they could have made a simple upgrade option, instead it becomes an upgrade that is tough for the layman.

Follow these steps to move your messages from Outlook Express to Microsoft Outlook 2010.

1) Copy the message store folder from the old computer to your new computer. You can refer to this page on my site about how to backup Outlook Express. You'll also want to export your address book from the old computer to your new one. There is information on the previous link to do this as well.

2) Now that the basic files have been copied to your new computer, generally to a folder on the desktop, we can proceed.

3) Make sure Windows Live Mail is installed on the Windows 7 computer.

4) Import the Outlook Express mail into Window Live Mail.
  • In Windows Live Mail, click on File
  • Click on Import, then click on Messages
  • Select Outlook Express as the format and click Next
  • Browse to the location of the backed up Message Store that you copied from the old computer
  • Click Next and allow the system to import the messages
7) Import your Address Book into Windows Live Mail

  • Click on the Contacts option in Windows Live Mail
  • In the Tools section at the top of the screen, choose Import
  • If you followed the directions in the link above to export the Address Book as a Comma Separated File (CSV), then choose that from the list. Otherwise, choose what format the address book is in.
  • Browse to the file location of the address book and choose to import it. Follow the rest of the wizard and the address book will be imported.
8) Now that your address book and mail has been imported into Windows Live Mail, we can export it into an Outlook file.

9) From the Windows Live Mail screen click at the top left and choose Export Email, then click on Email Messages

10) Choose Microsoft Exchange as the export type and click Ok to the box about exporting the messages to Outlook.

11) Follow the rest of the instructions to export the data to your Outlook program.

There is a more detailed step-by-step guide for how to do this from if you get stuck during the procedure. Otherwise you should now be able to open Outlook and have your messages and contacts show up accordingly.

Written by Mark Hasting

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