UPDATE: Less than 24-hours on and a potential Windows 7 Achilles' heel surfaces

UPDATE: Less than 24-hours on and a potential Windows 7 Achilles' heel surfaces

Summary: Yesterday was Windows 7's launch day - WooHoo! Yay! PARTAY!!! - but now that the parties are over and people are settling down to actually use their PC, a potential Windows 7 Achilles' heel emerges.

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Yesterday was Windows 7's launch day - WooHoo! Yay! PARTAY!!! - but now that the parties are over and people are settling down to actually use their PC, a potential Windows 7 Achilles' heel emerges.

It revolves around email, specifically the fact that Windows 7 doesn't come with a built-in email client. Windows XP had Outlook Express and Vista had Windows Mail. By comparison Windows 7 doesn't come with an email client (saves on bloat ... although Microsoft do bundle far more frivolous applications Paint, Media Player, and endless games ...).

If my inbox is anything to go by, problems seem to fall into three categories:

  • Users don't know where to find a new email client
  • Users don't know how to migrate their data and settings
  • Users have tried to migrate their data and settings but the migration fails for some reason

I've never really used Outlook Express or Windows Mail (beyond a casual glance) and I don't have any data stored in the programs so I'm somewhat at a loss when it comes to suggesting reliable fixes and workflows.

Bottom line though is that this is an issue that Microsoft needs to address. If users are finding this aspect of migration tricky, then there needs to be better help and possibly tools to help users migrate their email data and settings.

Microsoft, if you're going to switch platforms of users, you need to make is crystal clear how to move data and settings, otherwise people will become annoyed, frustrated and angry. Expecting people to search, trawl through the file system and mess about simply isn't an option.

[UPDATE: Installing Mozilla's Thunderbird email client is a good solution offered up by some of you ... good idea!]

[UPDATE: I'm seeing a lot of "experts" chiming in here with various points such as this is a non-issue, people should move to the cloud, no one uses OE or WM, etc. You're all missing the point here, which is that when people upgrade, they expect similar functionality. What Microsoft has done here is remove functionality and let the end user muddle through sorting it out. That's a big mistake if you want people to upgrade to your new OS.

The issue here is also one of power uses vs. the average user. Power users are hardly likely to be using WM or OE, but it seems that a lot of users do, and Microsoft has once again made one of those "we know better" decisions to remove a feature that a segment of users find useful.]

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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272 comments
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  • 3 Words for you...

    Windows Live Essentials...
    mjlaverty@...
    • three words

      Move to Gmail.
      TroutHound
      • Good point.

        I use Hotmail but also use Live Mail on my own machines as it also allows for an offline copy which is quicker to use once the mail has been synced.
        planruse
      • Re:

        I dont like gmail. I've had my hotmail address since before Microsoft bought them (Remember the red postage stamp logo?... I do). I've found a lot of the Google stuff lacking. Fun to use at first (Like Google Earth), but then realize that theres someone out there that can do things better or it was pointless to begin with. Google needs to stick with what they do best, search and advertising.
        mjlaverty@...
        • gmail vs. other mail tools

          I used to use Outlook and didn't like it very much. For me Gmail was
          good to start with and is now just about perfect. Google evolves its
          tools over time to meet the demands of a larger and larger audience.
          By now gmail, google calendar, google docs, picasa, etc. are
          sophisticated enough to meet all my personal needs. Clearly, there's
          another audience that Google can't (yet) satisfy.

          Here're two things about gmail that I really like: I hardly *ever* get any
          junk mail. (My Spam folder is bloated with messages that were
          automatically moved there.) And I've never received a message with a
          virus in it. Apparently Google does a good job of filtering trash.

          I still use Thunderbird to get a copy of all my mail messages on my
          local drive--should anything happen to my data in the cloud (a la the
          Sidekick fiasco).
          TroutHound
          • Gmail is great for most things, but I hate the flat tags.

            Gmail is great for most things, but I hate the flat tags. When you have 100 or so tags, it becomes impossible to organize.
            CobraA1
          • gmail and tags

            People are used to folders and are probably treating tags as folder
            substitutes in order to organize their messages. I don't. I use tags to
            draw my attention to Inbox messages that fall into a certain category (ex.
            financial (red), fishing (blue), recipes (green), etc.). I rarely click on a tag
            in the left column to just see messages with that same tag. Since
            Google's search is so fast an accurate, I just search for messages. This
            works very well for me.

            I can certainly see 100 tags causing problems.
            TroutHound
          • I hate playing the "find the word" game.

            I hate playing the "find the word" game. Half the time I can't remember a good word to search for.
            CobraA1
          • Well 100 or so folders would be troublesome too!!!

            NT
            mrlinux
          • Not really.

            Not really. I group them in a hierarchy. Most of the time I only see the top level.
            CobraA1
          • Gmail is crippled

            Google's Gmail has a number of persistent problems that haven't been fixed since its inception, and judging by the lack of attention by Google, probably never will be fixed. I struggled with it for a while but, sadly, came to the conclusion that it was time to move on.

            1. The POP implementation is faulty. If you love Gmail, you've probably never used it with a POP client, or never had to deal with an inbox containing over 200 messages.

            2. The Web mail client is so resource hungry that it will bring a 2-3 GHz processor to its knees. When running Gmail in a browser, it is practically necessary to shut down every other application on the computer and almost every other browser window or tab.

            3. Gmail is a close cousin of AOL mail in the sense that there is no indication of message size in the mail client, and it thus encourages na?ve users to forward HUGE emails, when a simple hyperlink to the resource on the Web would have sufficed.

            The suggestion that Windows 7 users switch to Thunderbird is the best advice in the comments posted for this article.
            Tony R.
      • Gmail

        Gmail isn't a client that can be installed on the computer.
        tealcat
      • four words

        Move to Yahoo Mail. Yahoo has been around longer, is more reliable, and does not spy on you as much as Google. Gmail is for suckers.
        jorjitop
    • 3 more

      They f*cked up
      Economister
      • Actually no...

        There's method to the madness.

        By moving the email client off of the platform, it's now possible to make ONE distinct app that can work on XP, Vista or Win 7. They don't need to make 3 different, distinct versions for 3 OS's.

        The same goes for the other Live Essentials apps - Live Messenger, Live Movie Maker, Writer, etc...

        It also offers the benefit of NOT having them installed if you don't use them in the first place.

        There's one more reason behind it all. It's (IMO) a preemptive strike to cut off potential law suits by other app makers. As we've seen in the EU, these sort of things get plenty of traction. First Real Media, then Opera. Who's next?
        Wolfie2K3
        • Two points:

          1. e-mail does not fit into the same category. It is hard to achieve world dominance through an email application. Hence the law suit argument is a red herring.
          2. Ignorant user migration. As I have said before, a small tweak to the installation routine could check to see if you are using an e-mail client (Outlook Express) and give you a few choices as to what to do. If you don't use it or say "no", no e-mail client is installed. Simple.

          If you do a clean install, presumably you already backed up your e-mail data, so the point is moot.
          Economister
    • Mailer.

      I have used Incredimail for years and am happy with that. Personally I think it is the best E-Mail client on the market.
      jhasprey@...
      • I have used Incredimail for years and am happy with that.

        Oh man wait till that stuff breaks and you want to retrieve the email
        ferrit@...
        • Why

          do you think Incredimail will "break"? It's 100% compatible with Win 7.

          Like the original poster (concerning Incredimail), I've used it for years and wont consider using anything else. The only thing I use Windows Mail for is to check my hotmail account. I hate the fact that hotmail changed their email protocols, forcing me to stop using hotmail as my default mail provider.
          tealcat
    • 3 Words....

      Sure, that's fine for you and me. In fact, that's what I use on my Win 7 Ultimate. What about all those other people out there who just want to use the computer and don't know enough to find the Live Essentials Website? I know, I know. They shouldn't even be trying to upgrade the OS themselves if they don't know how to find their own email client. That's not how the real world works, though. They *will* try to upgrade and they *will* get frustrated and angry with MS. MS is going to generate a lot of hard feelings among less technically-inclined users and they make up the vast majority of PC users.
      toml_12953