Friday, January 27, 2006

Email Clients... revenge of the suck!

Waaaaaaaaah... ok. I'm really frustrated with email clients right now on Windows. On Linux, I use Evolution (which is not perfect, but close). On Windows, I don't use an email client, but my mom does. She needs an email program that's easy to use and also a calendar application. Outlook 2000 She used to use Outlook 2000, but she had a lot of problems with spam. Outlook 2000 has a really stupid spam filter that just filters the sender (which is totally ineffective since spammers swap out their from addresses frequently). Outlook 2000 also has some inherent problems in how it deals with messages. If you get an email with images that are pulled from the internet, it will automatically display those images (suck!). If there are hyperlinks in a message, there is no way to see where they point until you click them (suck!). When you are composing a message and you want to select addressees, there is no clear way as to how it generates the autocompletion list. I have yet to figure it out. SUCK! Yea... Roadrunner email We have roadrunner and I set my mom up with a roadrunner email address a long while ago. Back then, GMail didn't exist and Yahoo had a really cruddy interface. What I wanted to do was let her use Outlook which she was used to using. Little did I know the entire valley of suck that awaited my mom in that email account. No spam filtering, 20 MB limit, an absolutely excremental webmail interface. Boo. So, many spam messages later, I decided to try and be creative. I got her a GMail account (which is great, by the way) and set up roadrunner to forward all mail to GMail, then set up Outlook to pull messages from GMail. Yay, it was working great! Except... in a few days, her roadrunner mailbox filled up and started bouncing messages. Apparently, roadrunner email doesn't believe in deleting messages that it forwards (even though EVERY other email service will remove / archive / trash messages that are auto-forwarded to another email account. SUCK! So, that idea was shot down... which leads me to...... Thunderbird Mozilla Thunderbird is hotness. 1.5 RC1 was out and I installed that. It was updated to RC2 and that becamse the final 1.5. Great, party down. Thunderbird has integrated spam filtering, a sane address book, a sane message composition system, and a nice simple interface. It detects phishing, doesn't automatically show internet images, deals with attachments in a totally sexy way. Thunderbird is great. Except... when it comes to dealing with messages sent from Outlook. Most of the people who send my mom mail (or at least the source of the chain mail, jokes, funny attachments, whatever) use Outlook (2000, 2002 or 2003). Outlook viciously mangles messages when they get forwarded by everyone. The HTML messages get totally messed up with the tables in tables in div's in tables in div's in whatever. Clicking "forward" makes Thunderbird cry. Sometimes, when Outlook forwards an inline image, it doesn't show up in other email clients. Also, when you try to forward an email with an inline image in Thunderbird, it doesn't send the image along. For some reason, the IMG tag has a "moz-do-not-send=true" attribute which tells Thunderbird to not send the image (even though I told Thunderbird to always send images instead of just linking them). Hmm. Apparently this is a known bug in Thunderbird and will be fixed in mid-February when is released. Hmm... waiting sucks, and I don't want to subject my mom to nightly builds that may cause her to grumble curses in my general direction. Also, Thunderbird doesn't have a built-in calendar (yet) that works well. Sunbird is still a ways off (still very unstable). Mozilla Lightning (Thunderbird + Sunbird) is something I'm really looking forward to. But... alas, I needed a calendar too... which leads me to.... Outlook 2003 I decided to bite the bullet and put Outlook 2003 on my mom's computer. Installation was easy (a few hundred megs for an email client does sound a bit excessive, though). It has email, calendar, tasks, the works. Sounds good. However... I quickly realized that Outlook 2003 is not a big jump from Outlook 2000. It had a few of the nasties fixed such as blocking messages from the internet and showing hyperlink destinations. But... without installing Microsoft Word, the email composition is dismal. Entering addressees sucks as bad as in Outlook 2000. In fact, it is exactly the same. The whole application looks like a patchwork. There are pieces that look new and flashy, and there are a lot of pieces that look like they were left in there from Outlook 2000. Suck. Suck. Suck. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Suck. It has a few nice features in the email component, but nothing that Thunderbird didn't do (except for dealing with messages sent from Outlook well). On the bright side, my mom is now able to forward all the messages she wants without incident. She also has a decent calendar app that she can use to set reminders and stuff. But... she's stuck with a substandard spam filter and a clunky interface. She got used to Thunderbird's hotness and going to Outlook is like jumping 6 years into the past. Suck. Chances are that we'll put Thunderbird back on there sooner or later... then I'll be happy again. Or, we can wait until Evolution gets ported to Win32 and she'll have the hotness of Evolution (with calendaring as well). It will be a happy day for me when I can share the hotness of Evolution with the Win32ers. I don't know why this whole episode got me all worked up... I guess it's just that I get so frustrated with bad software. I'm a bit of a selective perfectionist when it comes to software, you could say. ',;-) />


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Alex said...

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