The search for a new email client.

I’ve been in search of a good alternative to Outlook Express. It’s not that I have a problem with OE’s performance as much as the fact that 99% of email viruses make use of umpteen different vulnerabilities in Outlook and Outlook Express to propagate themselves. My virus scanner is kept up to date, but on the off-chance that something does slip through it would be nice if the email client I use is less likely to be vulnerable to passing it on to everyone in my address book. That and a little change in life is good. Problem is, there’s not a helluva lot of alternatives for Windows users.

I used to be a registered owner of Eudora and I liked it quite a bit. When version 5 came out I didn’t feel the fee for upgrading was reasonable considering the rather limited amount of new features it offered and I wasn’t about to allow spyware onto my system via the sponsored mode, so I reluctantly went back to using Outlook Express.

I tried out Pegasus Mail in the past and wasn’t overly fond of it at the time, but it is arguably one of the best Windows based email clients that has always been, and still is, 100% free. Checking their website I see that they’ve just released version 4.1 on the 21st of April and the new features do sound quite intriguing. Perhaps it’s time I gave it another look.

There’s the built-in email in Mozilla, but I still prefer to use Internet Explorer for my browsing as the extra editing javascript buttons in MovableType don’t work under Mozilla. I’m slowly leaning more toward using Mozilla for browsing, though, so I may yet make that switch.

Fortunately for me the folks at the Mozilla project are splitting off the email client into a separate program called Thunderbird (formerly Minotaur). The client is still very much in Alpha, but it’s already a very robust bit of code. I’ve already switched over to using it and am looking forward to future releases. There’s also a trimmed down version of Mozilla that’s just the browser (as opposed to being a whole suite of apps like Mozilla) called Firebird (formerly Phoenix)  that I’ve been playing with. Small, light-weight and fast I may yet give up using Internet Explorer all together.

What if you want something a little more along the lines of a total Personal Information Manager (PIM) like Outlook itself? You know, with a calendar, contacts, to-do lists and so on along with your email. Well I saw over at Chris Pirillo’s blog that there’s two open source alternatives being developed. One’s called Chandler currently very early at version .01 and the other is called Spaces also still in Alpha at version 1.8. Spaces is interesting because it’s written entirely in Java and as such requires you to install the Sun Java(TM) Virtual Machine (JVM).

If you’re running Linux and want something akin to Outlook then check out Ximian Evolution. The client looks set to compete very well against Outlook and I’m seriously bummed there’s no Win32 version available as I’d probably switch to it in a heartbeat. There’s even an add-on called Ximian Connector to allow it to communicate with Exchange servers in an office environment.

Beyond these clients most everything else is very niche oriented or lacks features to be considered worth using. I’m pretty excited about Thunderbird, but I may look into the latest version of Pegasus Mail as well.

7 thoughts on “The search for a new email client.

  1. Way back in the day, I used to use an email client called Becky. It could do multiple email accounts long before OE could. It also have a bunch of other features what were useful. However it did wasnt free and when Microsoft upgraded OE to include some of those features I made the switch. I dont have a URL handy but I’m sure a quick google would turn it up.

  2. I have to agree the update fee for Eudora is out of proportion to the number of improvements in each update still, it’s not outrageous and you don’t have to upgrade.  I think it’s the best client, save Lotus Notes, which is beyond reason for a non-corporate user.  I’ve heard good comments about The Bat (free) but also that it has some rough edges and is kind of quirky in places.

  3. The most secure email client is actually a news reader – Agent (by Forte).  Although not as feature-rich as the others, it is small, fast, safe, easy.

  4. I used to use Lotus Notes at work and really liked it.  Its best feature is that it asks for a password as you open it.  I have so many email accounts on different platforms that I have difficulty checking them all (never had to access so many platforms from Lotus Notes, so can’t comment on its flexibility there).  I tried Eudora but was not able to figure out how to configure it for gmail, aol, and other accounts at the same time (because some of web-based email servers required me to access through different ports—I couldn’t specify a specific port for each account).  Eudora crashed on my machine (my fault because I deleted an essential file), and when I uninstalled it and reinstalled it (twice), it still failed to open properly! I never got to the point where I felt comfortable with Eudora’s user interface.  Eudora is fairly secure because you can configure it so other logged-in users (in XP) don’t have access to your email, but there is no password required to open Eudora, so if I walk away from my computer I feel that I have to log off! For a while I was using Outlook, which was really pretty good, even for my multiple accounts, although at that time I didn’t have as many accounts as I do now (wasn’t trying to access gmail and aol accounts).  Security is a big problem with Outlook, though.  Microsoft just can’t seem to put programs together like Lotus Notes—no password, and a huge target for virus-writers.  I am now using pop peeper to see my new mail—it’s secure and easy to configure for multiple accounts (even mine, which need to be accessed through specific ports), but it is not a real email client, only a notification program that is not very polished—it hangs up sometimes and just is kind of quirky, although I like it.  Am about to try Pegasus, and when I have the chance I will probably switch back to Outlook.  There is a program available for $20 which provides security (a password when you open) for Outlook (can’t remember the name).  I hope more good free programs will become available soon.

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