Time to ditch Outlook? Eight alternatives tested

Summary:ALERT: You're reading the ancient 2005 version of this article! There's a new one, published in February 2009.

ALERT: You're reading the ancient 2005 version of this article! There's a new one, published in February 2009. Click this link to find out what the best alternatives to Microsoft Outlook currently are.

Outlook has been copping some heat lately, largely for attracting virus writers, while Thunderbird has been getting all of the good press. We examine the two products, and other e-mail clients available today, so you can see if replacing Outlook really is an option.

If you are setting up a new office, updating or upgrading, or even trying to save some money, it can be worthwhile looking at your options for your e-mail client software.

Many people won't give much thought to e-mail client software, thinking "I use Outlook Express -- it came with Windows." or "I am a Mac user, I will use the standard Mail package". But a business cannot really afford such a laissez-faire attitude toward its computer operating system. What a business should be thinking is: what features do we need from our e-mail software? Do we need integrated e-mail/organiser software? How vulnerable is the software to malicious attacks? How much are we willing to pay for something different?

In this review you will find e-mail packages that run the gamut of options.

Some of the packages reviewed are more than simple electronic mail facilitators (such as Barca, the Bat, Outlook, Eudora, and Lotus Notes), and some are complete personal information manager's (PIM's) that include calendar, planner, and diary functions. Others are pure, plain-and-simple, e-mail clients. In fact, the programs we reviewed that are purely e-mail programs, are actually free.

"Wait a minute!" I hear you say. "Free software? What's the catch? Advertising, poor quality?" Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is often simple altruism (yes, it does exist). Pine and Pegasus, for example, are the products of university staff who have perceived a need at their local campus. Having arrived at a solution the creators apparently saw no reason why others shouldn't benefit from this work, and as such both programs are available for free download.

Equally, Mozilla Thunderbird is part of the Open Source project which operates from similar ideals. Open source programs are available to all for free distribution and even modification -- since the original source code is available. Pine and Pegasus are not open source in this sense. The fourth free product is Calypso and this is another kettle of fish. It was shareware, but became freeware when a later version became available. If you like this version you might like to pay for the next one.

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Reviews

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