The End of Windows Mail

August 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Computers, History, Internet, Online services, Software, Web Apps | Leave a comment

An interesting development in the evolution of the operating system. Especially given the hassle Microsoft has had over including a web browser with the operating system. For quite some time, operating systems have also come with a basic email client. Because they were already there, many simply adopted Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Similarly, they took up Microsoft Word because that’s what they used at work. It was easier than learning to choose and install something better.

With Vista, Microsoft dumped Outlook Express (OE) and instead included a new program, Windows Mail (WM). Now they have abandoned both. Neither have further support or bug fixes or development and the coming Windows 7 includes NO email client. As well, Hotmail will not be accessible from Outlook Express by Sept. 1.

This is partly a sign of the migration to applications “in the cloud” – to web based applications. Many now use things like Yahoo or Gmail webmail so need no email application on their computer. The demand for email clients has dropped markedly.

If you are using OE or WM, the time to migrate your email to a new program or service is now, before you change operating systems or it stops working. Much easier to do on it’s own, on your time.

If you’ve not been doing your filing, it’s also a good idea to go through it all before you try a migration. This can much reduce the volume of work involved. Do you really want to move the mess over with the email? Clear dupicates, tidy the address book, delete the junk, create a few folders for friends and family and drag those emails yto save into them.

If you want to go all web with email, all the major on-line webmail services allow you to import from Outlook Express and Windows Mail. Check the respective services support section for instructions. You may need to do Contacts and Mail separately, exporting from the program, then importing into webmail.

I quite like gmail.com because it has great spam filters, allows you to forward to any other email account and allows you to collect any other email account there. So if you have an email account without webmail, you can collect it all in gmail and thus make it webmailed. You can also download gmail from POP or IMAP making it about as flexible as you like. I use webmail when I travel or on site, then download when I get back.

Some of us still like to manage our email (and backup) in an email client on our computer.

I used Outlook Express when it first came out because it would handle more than one email account. But soon, I migrated to the much superior Eudora, using it well past when it’s development stopped. Recently, I migrated to the feature rich and free Thunderbird with all it’s cool Add-ons.

Eudora mail did not migrate smoothly to Thunderbird, so ironically I used Outlook Express as an intermediary. Aside from some bugs mentioned, that worked. Thus an Outlook Express to Thunderbird should be pretty smooth.

Other choices:
The choice of email clients have dropped considerably. Personally, I would avoid Windows Live Mail as it’s prone to come with a bunch of “Live Essentials” that are neither live nor essential, as Woody Leonhard put it. Their support track record also stinks. And the process wants to take over your browsers search and home page. Any companies that like to make your computer theirs or assume you are an idiot don’t deserve your support.

A review of Thunderbird and iScribe

Reviews of Thunderbird, Foxmail, and Opera.

Have fun and stay in touch.
David

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