If you're using a Microsoft Windows operating system
there is also a good chance that you use Office and Outlook as your
email client. But is this really a choice?
More than likely it was a default option; the software is there, so why not use it? Why? Because there might be something out there
that suits your needs far better. Other email clients can be highly
customised to suit particular industries and may include options
not available in Outlook.
How much you can expect from an email client depends on your
company size and procedures for communication. For example,
many organisations must have shared calendars, while other
companies can be quite efficient with individual calendars.
staff are frequently on the road, you might need to consider
whether your email client needs to be operated on a small PDA
screen. You might also like to implement instant messaging and
integration with IP telephony, undertaken as part of your email
Some companies will require customised functions, and will need to know if macro
scripts can be readily created or if there are plug-ins available.
Before selecting a client, the server side of your email system
must also be carefully assessed. Is the client able to take
advantage of all mail server security and collaboration options
(and vice versa)?
There are 11 alternatives considered in this review. We would
advise you to trial a couple of alternatives before settling for one.
Downloads are available for most products and links to the vendor's
websites can be found on each page.
Apple Mail is the default email client supplied with the Mac operating system. Its interface is straightforward and wholly
unremarkable. Obviously, it parallels Outlook Express or Windows Mail
on Microsoft machines.
Being part of the operating system means that businesses using
multiple OSes cannot use the same email client across machines
(although this problem also exists for Windows Mail or
KMail on Linux systems).
As with Windows Mail, Thunderbird and many others, calendar
functions are shifted to a separate application, in this case Apple
iCal. iCal integrates with the Evolution and Zimbra email clients
on Apple systems.
A great feature of iCal is the ability to reschedule events by
simply dragging them from one point to another with the mouse. Mail
also allows for the user to enter "To Do" lists and other short
notes for ready reference.
A feature of Apple Mail that brings it closer to Microsoft Outlook than
Outlook Express or Windows Mail is the availability of Apple
Scripts — a standard feature of Apple operating systems. Scripts
can be used to automate many processes. In addition, you can use mail
filtering rules, which allow for automatic sorting of mail into
boxes according to details such as the content, subject or
Apple Mail handles HTML formatting as well as you could hope.
The Email Standards Project rates Apple
Mail as "Excellent". Apple Mail also has a number of pre-defined
stationery designs. As well as supporting standard IMAP and POP3
mail servers, Apple Mail can also work with online accounts such as
Gmail and Yahoo. In addition, RSS feeds can be automatically
Integration between iCal and Mail is tight, allowing dates and
places in emails to be recognised and easily exported into iCal.
Apple Mail is an effective, no frills application that is open to
automation using Apple's in-built tools. Because this software is
Apple only, it cannot actually replace Outlook per se, but it has a
comparable feature set and comes at no cost above the initial
purchase of the computer.
To call this product an Outlook "alternative" is debatable.
Entourage is the email component of Microsoft Office for Mac — just
as Outlook is the email component of Microsoft Office for Windows.
So while Entourage and Outlook are not identical, Entourage can be
seen as part of Microsoft's effort to expand Microsoft Office's
The feature set of both Microsoft products is comparable —
although there are significant differences in the appearance of the
interfaces. Both include recognisable to-do lists and calendars,
and while Entourage does not employ Visual Basic for macros,
AppleScripts can be used to achieve similar ends.
There will be a few usability issues for most people moving from Outlook on a PC to Entourage on a
Mac; both support
synchronisation and have the same set of basic features. Unfortunately, Entourage
does not support .pst file formats, which means that tab
delimited formats must be used when exporting between them. Enex
considers this a significant oversight, but certainly not
insurmountable. Entourage will directly import Apple Mail and
Another interesting observation is that Entourage is unable to
manage the same range of synchronisation tasks with an Exchange
server as Outlook can. For example, task synchronisation and
server-side rule editing are unavailable. HTML/CSS handling in
emails, however, is no problem at all. The Email Standards Project
rates the product as excellent.
Office for Mac also includes a component called My Day, which
provides the user with a compact view of current tasks and calendar
events even when Entourage is not open. This is a great way for
users to track their day.
The fact that Microsoft cannot provide users with a reliable
experience across platforms makes it clear that Outlook
alternatives are indeed necessary. Users of Linux must rely on
Windows emulation software to use Outlook. We hope that Microsoft Office
Web will improve the company's cross-platform credentials.
This is an interesting but somewhat difficult time to review
Eudora. Eudora is in a transition period from commercial product to
open source — a venture in which it joins forces with the Mozilla
community. Put simply, the plan seems to be to modify the Mozilla
Thunderbird source code to give it the look, feel and, in time,
full functionality of Eudora 7.
Essentially an add-on called Penelope manifests this change to
the Thunderbird application. This move to open
source does not apply to Eudora mail server software. The licences
for this remain with the original developers of the Windows and
There is little to distinguish between the two versions when
viewing the main window, but version 8 is a definite improvement.
For example, when forwarding a message it appears in an editable
window without the need to specify the (obvious) need to add
something to the message (even if it's only an "FYI").
A survey of the Eudora online forum indicates there has been
a mixed response to its change over to the Thunderbird engine. The
strongest criticisms come from the Apple users camp. Apple
machines can lack the variety of applications available to Windows
users and many of the advanced features of Eudora have not (yet)
been implemented in the new version. Of particular concern is the
lack of scripting tools for Macs.
Eudora for Mac and Windows were
separate applications; the new version is now a single application
compiled to suit the individual platform (including Linux). While
currently an add-on, Eudora code will eventually be more fully
integrated with the base code, which will hopefully alleviate
concerns about the slowness of version 8 compared to version 7.
Given access to the old Eudora code, it seems likely that the
features desired by the Eudora community will swiftly reappear.
Eudora adherents will see to that. In the end, the basic interface
is very similar to many other email clients. It is flexibility that
made the old Eudora so loved.
As it stands, Eudora 8 has a neat
interface and most of the features of a standard email client; it
includes multiple mail boxes, sort and search functions, message
filtering, dictionary, thesaurus and email labels, but
unfortunately lacks a built-in calendar. One would expect that
dictionary add-ons for Thunderbird would all be compatible with
Eudora 8, however, a Polish dictionary installed by Enex staff
functioned with Thunderbird, but not Eudora.
Given this, it is perhaps a bad time to move to Eudora. If you
want to investigate the true nature of the product, download an old
version (still available). Whichever version you
consider, remember that support is from the community. Help given
is a happily given favour, not a right. But the software is
Originally built for Linux systems by
Ximian (purchased by Novell), Evolution is an open-source package
and so comes standard with Linux systems using GNOME, including SuSE
and Red Hat. (Fedora Core also comes with Evolution included.)
Ximian has also been ported to the Mac (by Novell) and Windows (by Tor
Lillqvist) markedly broadening its appeal.
This review focuses on a
Windows version, which comes with an MSI installer produced by DIP
Consultants. Our brief overview of the Linux version uncovered no
significant differences between the platforms.
The user interface is not like any other product reviewed here,
but there was certainly a feeling of deja vu with Microsoft
Outlook in mind. Ultimately there are limits to the practical ways
in which the data handled can be presented, so it does not pay to be
too different from the opposition. Users will not want to spend too
much time learning new procedures.
Its search and filtering functions both have an impressive array
of options. When filtering incoming emails it is also possible to
launch applications, play sounds or pipe an email to another
application. Messages can be marked with colours and priority
Evolution supports both tasks and memos. Memos are notes to
which a date and category can be applied. Tasks allow for more
detail in terms of project management, having the option of start
and finish dates as well as status tags (in addition to the
category tags). Having both may seem like overkill to some users,
but it's great to have options.
Evolution has not yet been assessed by the Email Standards
Project, but testing by Enex suggests that it would be classed as
"poor". There were significant failures in the formatting of some
HTML/CSS elements, resulting in much of the styling of some
messages appearing as raw source at the end of the message.
Aside from the basics of POP3 and IMAP support, Evolution can
integrate with Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise servers. It
also supports Hula and Usenet News feeds. Evolution also includes
support for work groups by allowing shared online calendars.
The software is promoted as being able to kill Outlook on the basis of virus
immunity. Evolution would not be alone in this claim, though, as many other
alternatives also have the advantage of low profiles to malware.
Aside from bugs Microsoft may have in its software, miscreants
target it because it is the biggest.
Evolution is harder to update than Microsoft products, but this
is less of a concern given the rare need for security updates. Spam
filtering can also be undertaken with Evolution. From a functional
perspective there is little else that distinguishes Evolution from
Outlook — apart from pricing and servicing.
In true open source style, there is no help file included in the
base install. When online FAQs were investigated, still more open
source quirks were found. While a commercial application might
explain that a feature cannot be customised, it is sometimes
suggested that an Evolution feature can be adjusted if compiling
Also, rather than directing the user to a user-friendly GUI, you might instead be asked to edit a configuration
file. Open source typically has a "can do" approach to new features —
if you need more, you can do it yourself. Support is available
voluntarily in forums. If you have paid for SuSE Linux, presumably
Novell will offer some advice for installations on this platform.
There is no fee for using this product, but technical knowledge
will probably be required to maintain it.
Gmail is a web-based application provided free by Google and
features over 7GB of storage space.
This service is funded by ads and, given Google's policy of
using contextually appropriate advertising, it somewhat ironically
produced a link to a trial of Microsoft Outlook during testing. However, business users can work with Google or third-party partners to get a more business-friendly version dubbed Premier Edition for US$50 per seat, per year.
The Gmail interface is not complicated in itself, but the fact
that it sits inside a web browser automatically exposes the user to
many additional buttons and menus irrelevant to the email client.
Conversely, a web-based email service offers great convenience to
travellers who may not always have access to the same computer.
A calendar service is also offered — linked to your email
account. Like Outlook, calendars can be viewed by day, week and
month, and can be shared with friends. The calendar opens as
a separate web page to the email interface.
There is little argument it has a user-friendly interface and many
handy extras, but what about the basics? Messages sent to a test
Gmail account were a disaster. Message titles and the first part of
the message body displayed fine when listed in the inbox, but all hell broke loose when
a message was opened.
The message body was
stored in an attachment (three copies of this were found) and had
to be opened in order to read the message. The Email Standards
Project notes that Gmail cannot handle CSS in headers. Messages
sent by Enex using Outlook were mutilated to the point of
uselessness due to HTML/CSS formatting used in message
Provided that there is no need to converse with colleagues using
CSS, Gmail may otherwise serve you well. It has a search function
and important emails can be marked with stars or customised labels
to enhance search routines. Gmail also has a built-in chat program
and anti-spam filter.
While Gmail might be a convenient tool for personal use, we
would not recommend it for business purposes. For example, businesses will have
less control over the Google mail servers than they would their own internal servers, so cannot apply corporate
policies to employee mailboxes.
You can, however, get Gmail addresses customised to your domain name, and a number of large educational institutions in Australia and New Zealand have taken this approach to providing email addresses to thousands of students.
GroupWise is designed right from the
ground up as a serious, enterprise-level communications tool.
GroupWise does not try to do everything (there is no instant
messenger or VoIP integration as seen in some packages), but in
addition to email it provides shared calendaring, excellent contact
management, integrated web page viewing and RSS feeds.
We were initially bewildered by what could not be found (even
basics such as a menu system and the ability to set up email
accounts), however, it was discovered that an obscure button on the
right-hand side of the toolbar does manage all of this.
stunning decision to hide the menu is now shared by Microsoft's new
Internet Explorer 7. It means that you cannot even find the online
help — to help you find the menu! Having discovered the menu,
setting up accounts (any IMAP or POP3 server can be accessed in
addition to the GroupWise server) and generally customising the
application is straightforward.
GroupWise allows for one or more highly customisable home
screens. A home screen provides an overview of some or all of the
components of GroupWise. They can include recent items from
inboxes, newsfeeds, as well as a browser window and upcoming
calendar events or current tasks. Additional screen tabs provide
details of email, calendar, contacts, tasks and newsfeeds.
GroupWise stores just as much contact information as Outlook.
GroupWise, however, displays the information in a much more compact
and attractive manner. Calendars can be published to allow sharing
and calendars can be merged with the company calendar to provide
all information on one screen — without sacrificing privacy or
missing out on public information.
The GroupWise client is easy to install and use, but it should
be trialled before deployment across an enterprise. When initially
installed, Enex staff found that it interfered with Microsoft
Outlook (not that you should need both on one machine) and after
uninstalling, it was necessary to repair MS Office.
Editing and opening emails in Microsoft Word is a new feature for
GroupWise — presumably it will take a little while to get rid of
all the bugs. Our main product assessment was undertaken with a
virtualised copy of the application. Sadly, this version was not
fully functional and crashed when we attempted to edit a calendar
entry or edit a new email.
GroupWise is designed to closely integrate with a GroupWise
server, and accounts on other servers can also be set up. Security
is a very important issue for Novell. Log-in options exist for local
caching, or log-in to a web-based Novell server or a business' own
internal GroupWise server. GroupWise also employs extensive lists
of known spammers to keep inboxes as clean as possible.
It was disappointing not to see instant messaging in this
otherwise complete package, but this is partially alleviated by the
fact that GroupWise tracks email conversation threads.
The GroupWise client is available for Windows, Linux and Mac
operating systems and there is also a web interface. In this review,
the Windows version was the focus of our assessment.
The desktop version of this application, as tested, costs a
scary US$179 per user, including one year support (with no
additional server side costs). Cost cutting can be achieved by
forgoing support or by opting for web-based access to email and
instant messaging features (US$26.30).
Rule number one: don't use this
product with an old system capable of less than 1024x768 video resolution.
The configuration dialog box is large — despite the use of tabs. As
a part of the Linux KDE platform you can expect to find KMail on
any Linux machine running KDE. A Fedora Core distribution was used for this
review, which also came with Evolution and Thunderbird as a
In theory, KMail is a flexible product designed to suit a wide
audience. There are a multitude of configuration operations
defining how mail appears on the screen — and yet despite this,
Enex staff could not convince KMail to display images in HTML
It's a pity given the trouble developers have gone to, to
include a structure viewer for HTML mail (was this included so that
one can identify how well/badly the email was rendered?). Other
HTML formatting features were rendered as expected.
KDE features a calendar application called KOrganizer.
KOrganizer integrates with groupware servers such as OpenGroupware
and Kolab. Invitations and calendar attachments delivered via KMail
can be directly transferred to KOrganizer. KMail also integrates
with various spam and virus filters.
Filtering rules show a very similar range of options to that
seen with Evolution, no doubt reflecting the sharing of ideas
prevalent in the open source community. Filtering is focused on
both organisation and security. KMail is serious about both
aspects. HTML can be disabled and PGP encryption can be applied to
messages. Filters may not function with standard IMAP, but should
work with the newer disconnected IMAP.
Filters can also be used in conjunction with identities.
Identities can be associated with email accounts (on a per message
basis) so that messages from one email address could be sent to
separate user identities according to content recognised by
Enex does not recommend that business users rush out and
start using KMail as their default email client (even if they
already have Linux machines in front of every user). While today's
average office worker is far more tech-savvy than a few years ago,
most won't want to deal with configuration options, no matter how
wonderful they are.
The relevant help file was available (too often you have to hunt
down help files for free software). Unfortunately, the style of the
manual leaves much to be desired; it is heavy in terms of text and
includes no diagrams or screenshots. The manual is not difficult
to use, but may appear so to beginners.
When Lotus Notes was first launched,
it did not appear to be anything special — a standard-looking
email client with calendar function, To-Do list and a built-in web
browser. However, the application is actually much more than just
an email client.
Whole applications such as customer relationship management packages have been built
on Lotus Notes. CRM packages benefit greatly from having
such tightly integrated email and calendar systems.
Lotus Notes is better compared to Microsoft Office or OpenOffice
than with Outlook. It includes word processing, database,
spreadsheet and presentation functionality. It differs from Microsoft
Office only because everything is tightly integrated into a single
application (instead of an application suite).
Lotus also includes
a module called Sametime, which supports instant messaging, and
voice and video calls similar to Skype. Sametime in its basic form
is a free add-on, but more advanced features (such as telephony)
require an additional outlay of cash.
Once open, clicking on the home button gains access to all the
other installed components. The spreadsheet, presentation and
word-processing components were not considered as part of this
review — they constitute a package in their own right (called
Symphony). This is a free and optional feature, which can also be
used as a stand-alone product. (It can save files in Microsoft and
OpenOffice formats.) Mail merges can make use of contact lists in
We expect that a product with a built-in web browser should not
have problems with HTML emails, but some failures were observed
with CSS elements. The Email Standards Project classes Lotus as
"Poor" in this regard, but adds that this performance is greatly
enhanced if Lotus is used in conjunction with a Lotus Domino
Server. Better performance when matched with its mail server would
hardly be a situation unique to Lotus.
Calendar features intended for use with email server
interaction included multiple shared calendars. Purely local
calendars are possible, but need to be set up separately to the
account used for mail to prevent futile attempts to connect to the
non-existent copy on the server. Email and calendar is stored
locally and can be accessed while offline; synchronising with
server occurs as soon as a connection is present.
The greatest assets of Lotus Notes remain integration and
flexibility. The vast majority of users could easily complete all
of their daily tasks without ever leaving Notes. It includes
multifaceted communication and collaboration tools (including
email, IM and video calls) as well as a full office suite
(Symphony) and even web browsing.
Each application in use is only a
tab away and finding unopened components is only as hard as
clicking on the home button. Locating the workspace tab will grant
further access to all components, including custom-built applications
capable of harnessing diverse applications and Eclipse Java
IBM offers 24/7 support for mission-critical problems and
business hours support for less significant issues. The basic per
user price is AU$160, but this can be reduced substantially when
rolling out the product in a large organisation. Lotus operates
under Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. IBM also offers
hosting services for desktop and web-based clients.
Thunderbird is an open source application, but does not include calendar functions. Sunbird is the stand-alone calendar solution
also produced by the Mozilla Foundation. All bases are covered with
this combination, but it lacks the convenience of Outlook's
Why should it be necessary to open two applications each morning
when one would suffice? Generally the interface has a similar
layout to Outlook, but the devil is in the detail (where are the
Cc and Bcc options when replying to a message?).
immediately visible, the Cc and Bcc buttons are actually only a
single click away. Migrating from one application to another is
always fraught with difficulties, but it creates a risk that the idea of
different and worse might be confused.
Thunderbird renders HTML messages without trouble and is rated
excellent by the Email Standards Project. The message editor
provides very good text-handling options including tables, indents
and numbered lists as well as full support for the "img" tag when
Thunderbird supports message encryption with digital signatures.
Incoming messages can be filtered and directed to folders according
to keywords in a manner very similar to Outlook. Search and sort
functions allow the user to find old messages quickly or arrange
messages according to personal convenience by date, sender,
priority, subject, tag or even size.
An area the open source community really excels in is the
provision of language support. Dictionaries and/or language packs
are currently available for over 60 languages or dialects —
including five versions of English (Australia, Canada, South Africa, UK
and US). Installation of the software is very easy.
Sunbird allows for multiple calendars, web publishing and
provides reminders prior to appointments. Sunbird is built on the
same base as the Lightning calendar plug-in for Thunderbird. The
user can specify the length of scheduled events. A simple, but
adequate, "To Do" list is also incorporated into this program. The
Task list in Outlook takes an eternity to open and given its
complexity it might better be described as a mini project planner.
Sunbird, on the other hand, caters to simpler needs.
In addition to the expected support for POP3 and IMAP accounts,
Thunderbird also allows access to RSS, Newsgroup and Gmail
accounts. Sunbird calendars can be stored online to facilitate
sharing with colleagues.
As with any free software, don't expect on-demand support lines.
There are forums, of course, but even the help files are a separate
download. This is a well put together product, even if it does lack
a few of the options and polish of Microsoft Outlook. Its most
serious flaws are the separation into two discrete applications and
the support issue. In regards to integration, Thunderbird 3 is set
to include, among other improvements, an integrated calendar such
as the current Lightning add-on. When Thunderbird 3 will be
released is unclear at this stage.
Windows Mail is the "new Outlook Express" for Vista and ships as part of the Windows Vista operating
system. With that in mind, the simplest way to compare it to
Outlook is to say it is less of the same.
Removing the Task and
Calendar tabs does reduce clutter a little — which is handy if
you don't need those features. By default the message reading pane
is placed under the summary pane (whereas Outlook defaults to a
side-by-side layout), but both layouts are available in each
application. The interface has clearly labelled buttons for
common tasks such as send and receive.
The comparison to Outlook express is perhaps being a bit blasé.
Microsoft appears to have made an effort to separate this product
from Outlook in terms of appearance as well as name. Certainly
there was wisdom in visually distinguishing two products that
differ markedly in depth of options.
The toolbar is different and
matches more the styling of other Windows components such as
My Computer and Windows Calendar. Windows Calendar? Yes, the various
components found in Outlook can be accessed in the same manner as
Mozilla Thunderbird and Sunbird, but through the use of two
separate programs rather than the traditional integrated format of
Outlook. Windows Calendar supports the publishing of calendars to
the web and does include a To Do list.
Mail includes a place for LDAP contacts and supports RSS feeds.
Filters can be applied to incoming mail, and mail boxes can be
sorted on subject, sender, date etc, as per many other email
This product should not be confused with Microsoft's Windows
Live Mail, which Microsoft describes as having many of the features
of Outlook Express and Windows Mail. In fact, it resembles an
online email client enclosed in a dedicated web browser.
includes the ability to access multiple accounts including Hotmail,
Gmail and Yahoo standard POP3 or IMAP accounts, and RSS feeds are
supported, but there is no calendar component. This product is
directed at personal rather than business usage.
A client interface for any POP or IMAP service, businesses have
the ability to apply restrictions to email traffic at their own
mail servers. Being a Microsoft product it is also fully supported
by the MAPI protocol used by Microsoft Exchange.
Zimbra has a range of editions of its email client and has
also developed its own mail server application. Zimbra is owned by
Yahoo and currently uses a web interface, but is also available as
a beta "desktop" edition which permits emails to be viewed online and
offline. The web version is considered in this review.
Zimbra appears to have all the features of Outlook, including
an integrated calendar and To Do list. Zimbra also claims improvements
over Outlook such as not restricting mail boxes to 2GB. Despite
being a web-based client, the interface supports multiple accounts
including email extraction from external servers via POP3 or IMAP —
providing centralised email access.
While Zimbra may not have the kind of scripting that graces
Outlook, it does have customisable filters and a host of add-in
Zimlets (similar to widgets found in Lotus) giving access to such
things as flight bookings, Flickr, Babelfish and Yahoo Maps (IT
staff with AJAX skills may be interested in Zimlet development).
Another very handy feature is its integrated instant messenger.
Besides three versions of English, 15 language options are available for the interface.
The online evaluation did not allow for the sending and
receiving of emails at the time of testing, so it was not possible
to assess the effectiveness of HTML email handling, nor has the
Email Standards Project evaluated this software.
Zimbra has features that make it far more than an email client.
It allows online viewing of Word and PDF documents as HTML. Zimbra
also allows the creation of online documents, which includes
pictures and spreadsheets. Integrated Asterisk technology allows
for voice calls and messaging via existing VoIP systems.
Having a web-based interface, it is tempting to compare this
product with services such as Gmail or ordinary Yahoo accounts for
that matter. In fact, the feature set and flexibility of Zimbra
make it more comparable with applications such as Outlook or even
Zimbra easily equals Outlook and it leaves Thunderbird
for dead — aside from its inability to check messages offline. (On
that note, it might be worth looking into Zimbra desktop at a later
date when it completes beta testing.) Zimbra Desktop supports
offline message browsing and allows users to access web accounts
such as Gmail.
Both open source and paid versions of this software are
available. Naturally, the open source version exists so that
Zimbra's development will be accelerated — swapping expertise for
the product. Purchasers of the paid versions are, of course,
entitled to technical support. Being web-based, the licensing fee
is for the server software rather than client software.
Zimbra Professional pricing is US$875 per year per 25 mailboxes.
Pricing per person reduces as the number of users increases and
discounts of 50 per cent are available to government, educational
and non-profit organisations. This pricing assumes the software
resides on your own server. Hosted services are also available.
Given the range of features and flexibility, pricing at $US35 per
user seems very reasonable.
Medium to large businesses should have their own mail server
directing mail to and from clients according to corporate policy
rather than the policies of an email service provider. What mail
server is in use, and its policies, may well dictate the choice of an email client a company can use.
For example, if using Microsoft Exchange with MAPI, users will ideally
use Microsoft clients such as Outlook or Windows Mail. It's recommended to
use a Lotus Domino server to get the best results from Notes.
Outlook, Lotus, GroupWise and Zimbra are the only real choices from
the options considered here.
No one single product can be touted as the ideal solution to all
needs, but Lotus Notes would certainly be an excellent choice for
many larger businesses — after all, it's good enough for GE and
IBM. Most people do not have particularly advanced needs when it
comes to office productivity tools, so the ability to add Symphony
at no extra could save a company very large amounts of money
otherwise spent on products such as Microsoft Office or Corel
IBM has itself decided it no longer needed Microsoft Office on
every desk. Lotus is hedging its bets by keeping a close watch
on both Microsoft and open-source technologies to ensure users can
interact successfully with the widest possible range of people.
Smaller business may not be able to justify running their own
mail servers, but it is still important to choose a product that
can also offer individualised service and support. The last thing a
company should do is rely on a free service that stamps email
addresses as belonging to the service provider rather than the
company itself (eg, email@example.com is hardly professional).
Think twice before selecting a free service, since they also tend
to be free of reliable support and email is far too critical to
mess about with.
Ultimately, Lotus Notes is the favoured product (provided that it is linked to a Domino server!).
Zimbra is perhaps the most affordable product which has both
vendor support and multiple OS compatibility — not to mention a
feature set comparable to market leaders like Microsoft, Novell and
IBM/Lotus. A free version of Zimbra is also available and it is
suggested that businesses investigate the trial version first.
those willing to rely on unofficial support channels,
Thunderbird/Eudora might be a reasonable path given that it will
operate under Windows, Mac or Linux operating systems — it has a
large and fanatical support base in the open-source community.
Ultimately, Lotus Notes is the favoured product (provided that
it is linked to a Domino server!). Notes has a broad range of features
and expands into a full, customisable office productivity tool
suited to a range of platforms.
It might be suggested that referring to such features makes for
an unfair comparison with other email clients, but after all, in
this review we're seeking alternatives to Microsoft Outlook — a
part of a complete office suite. In that sense, the only other
product directly comparable to Microsoft Outlook is Microsoft Entourage and it
seems wrong to consider that as a true alternative.