back to article Whatever happened to the email app?

Is the email program dead? Did the whole world just migrate away from Hotmail over to Facebook when we weren't looking? Does anyone else care? Weirdly, the answer seems to be yes, yes, and no. Email has never gone away, and its advantages are unique: but the email client seems to be going the way of the Gopher. Which is a bit …


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  1. Anonymous Cowherder

    Thunderbird with lightning and google provider

    I could not live without my mail client. I have Thunderbird with lightning sync'd with my google calendar setup on my work pc, my laptop and my home pcs. I access my work and my personal mail accounts via imap and I may shortly migrate to the dark side and get an iphone which will be set up with imap on there too.

    I have my filters on a pc that is constantly on and my mail is handled just how I like it. You will get my client when you prise it from my cold dead hands.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few others

    Personally, I point my Windows friends to Poco-mail. Take a look at it.

    On Linux, I use Kmail as it can forward e-mails on the rule base (great for forwarding important suff to my hip) and is reasonably nippy on its feet, especially when handling multiple accounts, identities and mail boxes - I love it over Evolution.

    1. mfraz


      I agree, much prefer KMail over Evolution where most of the functions I'm used to in KMail are either hard to find or missing completely.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward

    GUI mailers are for sissies

    I use a GUI mailer for work email because in this context I have to be sufficiently comptible with how work colleagues and students see things. But GUI mailers are only suited to 20 messages a day. I handle twice as much email as that on my home account and it takes me no longer to open/read/respond to double the number of messages using Mutt which is driven entirely by the keyboard and not at all using a mouse. The rodent inefficiency is having to move a hand from the touch typing home keys to a mouse and back again, causing elbow, wrist and shoulder strain in the delay. Mutt can handle any attachment by launching a seperate application for the content type, though I bin unread some HTML only messages or request resend, because I can't always be bothered to read HTML only email if it takes 2 more keystrokes and another 5 seconds to launch a browser for it.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Does Andrew actually work in IT?

      Facebook users are much older, Warren - the largest age group is 35 to 54.

      You really should get out more.

      1. SuperTim

        That ISNT what he was saying.

        He was saying that the teenies use it INSTEAD of email. I agree that the mid-life-crisis bunch use it more to pretend they actually liked all those people they went to school with, and maybe send the odd message. Nobody with any sense uses facebook as a secure message system.

        Besides, the most common form of communication is the CB isn't it? Breaker Breaker , gotta go 10-100 now, Good buddy.

      2. Will Leamon
        Thumb Up

        Amicus Brief

        In fact it's the only way to get in touch with my 40 year old sister.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        What makes me larf about the old fogeys

        What makes me larf about the old fogeys is that they use their real names on Facebook. OMG ROTFL.

        1. Mike Flugennock

          I finally gave in...

          ...and got a Facebook account, just to shut my wife up so that she and her circle of friends -- real, actual friends, not Facebook "friends" -- could get in touch with me. Needless to say, I pretty much locked down every possible Profile preference to "only me" and entered entirely bogus birthday and gender info along with an entirely fake name. I suggested to her that it'd be way easier to just email fotos, video links, and other items of interest by using cc: in a standard email app, but she just wouldn't hear of it. Besides, she does all her email through a Yahoo! account, which kind of tells you a lot, right there.

        2. RISC OS

          Yeah but...

          unlike you the old foogeys actually know REAL people who might try and contact them.

      4. SynnerCal
        IT Angle

        Yes, Andrew does work in IT

        I'd agree with that assessment of Farcebook users age-range. From what little I can see, the local teenies (my kids and their friends) prefer texting, then IM, then email as a backup. Farcebook is seen as something for the pre-OAP's to use, as is - to a lesser extent - Twitter.

        "Most of the rest of the world - normal people - only ever used a webmail service as a primary email account."

        That's an interesting point - albeit a wrong one (again in my experience). Teenies seem to use the webmail accounts - presumably because they're used to everything being delivered Web2.0 stylee via a browser. Older folks prefer to use a proper email client - be it Outlook, Thunderbird, or any of the others names in the article. That's assuming they can of course.

        Look at it sensibly - a web client is fine, but doesn't make all those little niceties - like message filters, local archive, multiple email accounts etc - particularly easy. So if you want/need those then you end up using a mail client by choice. On the other hand if you just want to dash off a quick note, or read one, then webmail is fine.

        And then of course, there's the systems like the now departed lycos one - where the webmail system is so slow, buggy, and/or downright unpleasant to use, that an email client-based delivery is the one way to use the service without going mad.

        Not a bad article at all - although I think I'll stick with Thunderbird for the time being - using multiple Linux/Windows boxes means that I need something cross-platform, which Outlook definitely isn't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A title is required.. blah blah blah

          I'm probably in the "older folks" category, but I've always used Webmail as my primary personal account.

          The reasons for this are:

          Firstly, I change my ISP fairly regularly and can't be bothered having a new email address each time. Secondly, by not having Outlook and Outlook express (or any other email thick client) installed I avoided what was formerly a very active malware attack vector. Lastly, I'm anti-social, so I don't exactly do much personal email (even though I've still got emails from over 7 years ago, my mailbox still uses less than 100Mb).

    2. buxtonmarauder


      POP3 is the spawn of the devil and should always be avoided IMHO

    3. Bumpy Cat

      40 messages a day!? How do you manage?

      But yes, Mutt rules.

      1. Neil Hunt
        Thumb Up

        Ahh mutt!

        Until I started in a new company which enforces Notes, I used Mutt exclusivly. Now it's only at home. I love it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      mutt is the dog's bollocks.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: mutt

        Indeed, and mutt would be my choice of email client if I had to run one in a terminal. comparisons between pine, elm, mutt were beyond the scope of the article.

    5. Jamie Jones Silver badge


      I use mutt, I also use heirloom-mailx 99% of the time!

    6. zanto

      fix your mailcap

      ever here of elinks or lynx?

      i seriously doubt it takes more than a fraction of a second to read html email in mutt.

    7. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Change their mind?

      If they had one to begin with, they wouldn't be using "all your privacy are belong to us" Facebook in the first place.

  5. J 12


    Do most people really use webmail as their main 'client' ? Nobody I know does.

    As above, I use Thunderbird on Mac and Windows to connect to my googlemail IMAP+Calender.

    1. Mike Cardwell

      Re: Really?

      "Do most people really use webmail as their main 'client' ? Nobody I know does."

      That says more about the type of people you know. All of my techie friends use proper clients. All of my non techie friends and family use webmail clients (ie, hotmail, yahoo, gmail webmail)

      I use Thunderbird. I'm not against the idea of using a web based email client in principal. I may consider it when one comes along which works offline, is as featureful as Thunderbird, and can work with an open standard backend, eg IMAP.

      The webmail offerings from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are useless because they only work with *their* email services. I can't take GMails webmail offering and point it at my own IMAP server. I *can* take Thunderbird and point it at any IMAP/POP server in the World.

      1. JCL


        There's always which will work with your mail accounts. I use it when I'm on holiday and want to keep in touch with the folks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Got a gmail account that all my personal addresses forward to and our company uses gmail as our primary email server so I use the webmail for that as well. Tried using various clients but they didn't do anything I couldn't do faster in a browser window*

      *offline access isn't a problem - I'm rarely offline, and when I am I treat it as the ideal opportunity to read the paper or have a life instead

  6. Ben Boyle

    No mention of the dark side?

    A piece on mail clients and not one mention of Outlook? OK, it's a Microsoft product and you have to buy *cough* Office to get it but it's not just for exchange. I've been (relatively) happily running my email with it for YEARS and so long as you keep your pst files down to sensible sizes (I archive year on year) it's perfectly good - and has calendaring, tasks, etc. built in.

    It's not everyone's cup of tea but for it to be left off the list is, frankly, inexcusable.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: No mention of the dark side?

      It's about dedicated POP3 and IMAP mailers, that's why. Not groupware.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dapprman

        @ Andrew - And ..... ?

        Outside of the work environment I'll wager the vast majority of MS Outlook installs are used for dedicated IMAP/POP3 clients, so Ben's views are totally valid

      3. Ben Boyle

        Title goes here

        Which is fine, but most people running office on their home PC aren't necessarily using it for group collaboration, are they?

      4. JohnG Silver badge


        Outlook should not be excluded - it is available as a standalone product, as well as part of MSOffice, although an expensive choice. Many people use it because it is often the only option available for Windows users that allows synchronisation between various mobile phones or similar gadgets. Occasionally, Outlook may even be bundled with such a gadget, as was the case with an old HP PDA I used to use.

        1. Rob

          HTC Phones

          All of the HTC phones I have bought so far come with a copy of outlook on CD. I have it installed on my home PC for just that, to sync up my contacts and calendar. For a quick view of my mail I tend to use Live Mail as I find it easier to sort through stuff and a damn sight easier to manage my Google Mail account with.

      5. Oninoshiko


        Ahh but for many of us, with our work accounts, that stuff that flies about on port 25 ends up in a groupware client, be it Notes or Outlook. Email is still heavily used in busness, and that's the reality of how it is used. I suppose we can ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room if you like, be someone still has to shovel gorilla-poo.

      6. OffBeatMammal

        Outlook isn't just a groupwise client

        I know a lot of people who use Outlook as their mailer of choice. Sure it also integrates contact management and a calendar and can talk to Exchange but it also does POP3 and IMAP really well (and has a Hotmail connector)

        You also fail to mention Entourage on the Mac which is pretty awesome (and also supports Exchange, just like

        Linux users have Evolution (which has an Exchange plug-in as well as the usual suspects)

        I guess though given your "Vista 2010" jab, general Windows digs and belittling of the Windows Live Mail which despite a cumbersome name is actually a pretty good email client I guess this was actually just some material to wrap around pointless Microsoft bashing.

        If you're going to be sarcastic at least make sure you disguise it with some good basic research

    2. Dapprman
      Thumb Up

      Lynch Mob

      They'll be after you with pitch forks and fire brands !!!

      However, I totally agree. I grew up mail wise on elm and pine, so when I found myself in a work environment I at first hated a GUI based client. However over time ease of use came in to it and I too use Outlook and have done for many a moon with out a problem. Ok I must admit I do not like Outlook Express and 10 years back I preferred Netscape mail client to the MS offerings, but times change.

      As to the AC who reckoned that more than 10 emails a day makes a GUI impractical. Not so, junk filtering, mass selection/deletions when the items are not consecutive, selective choosing of what to read next without leaving the preview window ....

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Epic fail

      Anyone using Outlook for simple internet email deserves to suffer.

      Like you say, it works as long as you don't really use it for email.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        They are suffering

        Most of my friends who use Outlook Express that comes with their computers, typically ARE suffering. Last year I had a bunch of friends within a few months of each other, for whom OE decided to start a new profile of its own accord.

        Their ISP's give them all the information they need to set up Outlook Express, but when it goes tits up, the ISPs don't give support. Unfortunately, most of these friends haven't got the know how to track down errant pst files and recover the mails when OE throws a wobbler. I just have to say that in my personal experience, OE is the most unreliable mail client I've ever used.

        Those friends that I have talked around to Poco-mail ... I never hear about any e-mail problems from them again.

        As for demographics of who uses what; I wouldn't like to call any shots really. Of the people I know across ll age ranges, I wouldn't actually be able to look at any of them and determine what they would prefer using. Many of them use more than one solution ... as do I.

        I just don't use facebook, myspace, orkut or any of those any more; for my friends I prefer to pick up the 'phone, go round for dinner, invite them over But maybe, for a tech head with eight blogs, four web sites, a twitter stream and several e-mail accounts ... I guess I'm just old fashioned.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Outlook is unfortunately the pick of the crop. Mind you being a freetard Evolution for windows is something id give a go...

      I've moved away from thunderbird, and lightning. Evolution is a better (if dog ugly). Try running thunderbird across X, you can only have one instance.... YUK!

  7. mattm591

    Hang on!

    There seems to have been absolutely no mention on the wonderful IncrediMail in this article.

    Surely one of the most useful and best loved e-mail clients of all time should have had at least a mention!

    For those not familiar with IncrediMail, it is perhaps the most incredible piece of software ever made with ridiculously useful features like animations after sending mail, and a butler who sits on your desktop eating resources!!

  8. Nick Thompson


    "... - suffered from nanny Microsoft sizing them up for a premature kill. But I digress.".

    These applications are performing long running process on the thread which should be used for handing Windows messages, a big no no. This isn't Windows fault, it is the fault of the people writing the application for not doing the work in a background thread.

    Long story short, if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Gah I still use Pine and have no problems at all!

  10. Richard 51
    Dead Vulture

    I wish!

    I use Outlook, not because I am a fan, just that its convenient. I want my phone / contacts / calendar to be sync'd with my laptop. My iphone can only do this with outlook on Windows. I guess I could move to hotmail / googlemail but why should I give these more opportunities to shove adverts down my throat.

    So please someone develop a bulletproof way of syncing all my devices (work laptop, home laptop, iphone and blackberry). It would be nice to also have all my contacts / calendar in one place too. So I know tomorrow I have a business meeting at 5 and meeting the boys for a beer at 8. Without having to stick it in multiple devices.

    Its not the email app its the integration of communications !

    1. max allan

      Typical windows centric view of the universe

      "if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it."

      How about "if your application stops talking to the user, the user can decide to kill it." ?

      I don't care if my app is talking to Windows as long as it's still talking to me. If there is some sort of progress indicator, I'll leave it to complete.

      I'm still on XP, but I often see apps that Windows says aren't responding, that are still usable and some that windows is happy with, that aren't responding to me.

      So whichever thread gets busy doesn't really matter to the end user. Just make the damn thing work and windows sod off and leave me to make my decisions "It looks like your program is trying to write a letter, do you want me to help with that?" (Remember the f$"£ing paperclip)

      1. Argh

        But if it's not handling windows messages...

        If it's not handling windows messages (e.g. to refresh the graphics in the window), in general it's also stopped the user interface responding. That's the issue, although there may be exceptions as you point out.

        It's a guideline that the developers aren't following.

        You know that Linux has a process killer for badly behaving processes too, right, e.g. the OOM killer? That one doesn't even ask if you want to shut it down.

        Same deal -- if the application behaves nicely with the OS, the OS won't consider killing it.

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          OOM killer

          The OOM killer is only invoked if the system runs out of RAM and swap, it is not something that kills a process because it is busy doing something and not talking to the GUI subsystems.

          Your comment is completely wrong.

    2. Rajiv Dhir

      Windows 7

      "Long story short, if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it."

      I expect the same will apply to users soon too.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Killing users

        Now that would be an enhancement to W7 that I'd pay good money to see implemented.

    3. Ned Leprosy
      Thumb Up

      Re: Pine

      Still using Pine here, too; well, Alpine at any rate. I still have my yearly ritual of trying to move into the 21st century of graphical excitingness, but invariably give up after a few weeks as they're all more fiddly to use in one way or another. Or several ways, usually.

    4. FFred

      Incredimail ??

      I wasn't really sure what that was so I looked it up. Apparently it's Hello Kitty Email meets MySpace cuteness (puppies !!!) and it only runs on Windows.

      It's obviously an essential piece of kit. I instantly installed it in my virtualized XP.

      Then I reduced the memory size and I watched it suffer. It was great !

    5. Stoneshop Silver badge

      The worst thing about Incredimail

      is that the butler doesn't eat all the system resources *before* any, ahem, "mail" is sent, thus keeping the festering piece of excrement it spews confined to the peecee of the retard that wants to use this product of a syphilitic twat.


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