Outlook cannot read its own ANSI-encoded data

I instructed Outlook to open an Outlook Data File and got:

You are about to add a non-Unicode capable store to your profile. This store should not be used to store multilingual Unicode data. Do you want to continue? OK/Cancel


  1. I have no idea what “a non-Unicode capable store” means. I do not have enough information to make a decision and the message does not link to information where I can read more and make a decision.
  2. The message does not explain the consequences of opening a non-Unicode capable store in Outlook 2013.
  3. I do not know where this word “store” came from and what it means. Maybe store is the same as data file. I guess, the person who wrote the message did not know what terminology the people who designed the Open menu used.
  4. Very complex expression. I guess that “non-Unicode capable store” means that this is a store that is able to do/read/store non-Unicode.
  5. You-are-to-blame framing. The message is written in an accusatory way that makes me feel guilty of trying to open my own file.

ANSI formatting

I think that the message tries to tell me that Outlook 2013 is not able to display properly Cyrillic characters from the metadata of messages. Here is what happens:

The body text of messages appears properly.

I searched for a solution. According to http://www.msoutlook.info/question/115 the reason is that Outlook used to use ANSI encoding in the past and has now switched to Unicode, and there is no automatic way for conversion of old files. Unfortunately, the approach described in that article for converting to the current Outlook data file format did not work for me.


Quick and dirty: Do not ask users to make a choice. Show the message as modeless info and provide a link to information explaining what the message means and what users can do about it.

Design for humans: Do not show a message. Automatically recognize the encoding and apply it. After all, this is a file created in a previous version of Outlook, so it is normal to provide backward compatibility.

18 March 2015 | Microsoft Outlook


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