Mention email and most Windows users immediately think of Outlook. The Outlook email client from Microsoft has become so entrenched in the Windows desktop that most users don’t even know there are alternatives.
We look at five alternative email clients that run on Windows, and in most cases, other operating systems such as Mac OS X and Linux.
Eudora is no spring chicken in the world of email. Widely used in the early days of the Internet Eudora has a pedigree that stretches back to the early 90s. Even at that time it ran on Windows and Apple systems and was used in corporations, universities and homes alike. Today Eudora’s userbase is diminished but Qualcomm is still rolling out regular releases.
The current version of Eudora is version 7 and version 8 is in beta. To date Eudora has only been available for Windows and Mac systems but the current version 8 beta is also available for Linux systems. The Linux version is not so much a standalone Eudora version as much as a port based on Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client.
Eudora is full-featured and those that do use it swear by it. Version 7 includes customisable searches which can be saved, customisable notifications and a “recent email” folder for managing incoming mail.
Pegasus Mail is another long-standing email alternative. Pegasus was initially released in 1990 and intended for sending and receiving email on Novell Netware networks. Pegasus Mail has Mercury Mail Transport System so users also get a mail server as part of the package. Security is a key part of Pegasus and the default install includes PGP encryption. Pegasus also has good network support and works particularly well with Novell Netware systems, although it is not limited to that.
In the early days of email Pegasus Mail paved the way for successors by developing many of the features today’s users take for granted; things like multiple POP and IMAP accounts and filtering. By today’s standards Pegasus Mail is not as feature rich as the likes of Outlook but does include a number of features that make it popular with “power” users. Some of these include the ability to include custom headers in email, a very powerful filtering system and the ability to independently manage email contents and attachments.
From the people that created the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird is one of the best alternative email clients available. Created as free and open source software, Thunderbird runs on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X systems and is easily one of the best mail clients around. Like Firefox, one of Thunderbird’s big advantages is that it has an extension architecture which means that any number of plug-ins can be added to the base install to extend its feature set.
Even without plug-ins, however, Thunderbird is a powerful email and news-reading client that has a powerful filtering system, a tabbed interface for managing multiple accounts and strong spam-management tools.
Thunderbird is also available in a number of languages including Afrikaans.
SpiceBird is another open source email client. SpiceBird is a relatively new release and runs on both Windows and Linux systems. SpiceBird’s claim is to integrate instant messaging, email, calendar and task management into one application. The instant messaging portion is mostly limited to GTalk/Jabber accounts, however.
Like Eudora’s Linux version, SpiceBird is largely based on Mozilla’s Thunderbird but includes the Lightning (calendaring) and Telepathy (IM) applications as well to provide a complete set of tools. The same could be achieved using many of the standalone applications but SpiceBird’s selling point is that it does all the integration before you download it.
Another open source email client, Sylpheed is designed to be a lightweight and simple email client. Although Sylpheed doesn’t aim to be the most feature-right email client it still sports a range of powerful features, including templates, labels, virtual folders and good security protocols.
Sylpheed can be used to access multiple POP and IMAP accounts as well as newsgroups and can filter incoming mail using simple filters or “regular expression” filters.
Support for HTML email, however, is not fully developed so Sylpheed is not ideal for users keen on a flashy inbox. But for those users looking for a straight forward, simple email-focused application, Sylpheed is among the best.
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