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.
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.