This morning I was installing the Conferencing Add-in for Microsoft Outlook so I can set up VBUG Online Meetings and send out invitations direct from Outlook when I mentioned on Twitter that I'd been having problems with the Outlook process constantly running despite my having closed/shutdown Outlook. This has been a really big annoyance for me for a while and I hadn't found the solution. Thanks to the power of Twitter I've been able to sort this problem now and identify what was causing it.
Usually behaviour like this is attributed to a bad add-in running in Outlook. Well I checked my list and found I had a couple of add-ins which I didn't recognize. First was an iTunes Outlook add-in. What was iTunes wanting with outlook, well I believe it is linked to the ability to sync calendar and contact information with my nano - something I've never wanted to do as I have a Windows Mobile 6 phone for that, so I removed that add-in. Next was Xobni an outlook plugin which I was trying out but have decided to remove as I don't really need what it offers. So now I tried running Outlook and exiting but found it was still leaving the process behind.
One of the tweets I'd received mentioned Skype as a potential problem so I shut that down, fired up Outlook and then closed Outlook, checked in task manager and the process had successfully closed. I then started Skype, then Outlook and then closed Outlook and checked and the process was still running. After a little searching in the Skype forums I found the fix for my problem - http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=97020 - and it seems that the problem is known and it appears that it's just the way Skype works - what !! if I closed a program I don't expect another one to keep it running!
It appears that the View Outlook Contacts "feature" in Skype causes Outlook to remain running in the background. The fix is to go into Skype, goto the View Menu and uncheck View Outlook Contacts. If this option is greyed out you need to run Outlook, return to Skype while Outlook is running and the option should no longer be greyed out, allowing you to uncheck it. Now Outlook shuts down and the process ends properly!
This "feature" is a problem in my mind - why can't Outlook Contacts get store in some form of cache in Skype so therefore not needing a permanent connection to Outlook?
The power of Twitter and social networking has helped me to fix this problem and I hope I can repay that in future through my interactions with Twitter, Facebook etc. Special thanks go to @mehfuzh, @blowdart, @garyshort, @markjbrown, @recumbent and @james_a_hart who helped me out with some very useful time and tweets!