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December 19, 2003


Yesterday's excursions into the Blogosphere were preempted by an only occasionally harrowing e-mail migration activity in which I brought up Thunderbird 0.4 (couldn't they have named it something like Gallo, or Bonnie Doon?) and Outlook 2003. The gauntlet is thrown. (Well, not quite; it was all so harrowing that after everything worked, I shut down the machine and went back to my old 'puter...)

I am an IMAP user, and I have two major accounts; I only brought up one account (and through one wrong click, I initially set up a POP account and then downloaded all of my mail into it--exactly what I didn't want to do--although I was able to copy a lot of mail back to the server).

So far, it's a tie. I like the one-click design of the junk-catcher tool in Thunderbird, and I'm very impressed by the user interface for its rules tool. Outlook has it backwards; you don't want to create a rule for every address--you want to create a rule and add addresses to it. Thunderbird's design supports this better. I am really, really serious about rules (or filters, depending on your product--but you know how I feel about the word, "filters"!), so this was the second thing I looked at, after the junk catcher.

Still, Outlook 2003 is good, too--the new interface doth please the eye-- and it has that whole "PIM" thing going on. I've long since become addicted to turning messages into contacts, notes, and appointments, and my PDA goes with me whenever I leave the house.

The tie-breaker may well be how well either product integrates with third-party sp*m-catchers. Norton Anti-Sp*m was part of the Norton suite I bought for my laptop, but I don't have it running on the desktop yet. I wasn't completely convinced by the interface; Thunderbird's one-click junk-catcher is a major ergonomic plus. But I'm completely sold on yielding junk-mail decisions to an intelligent third-party, as long as I can rummage through the junk occasionally to hoover up misplaced messages.

Outlook 2003 also identified the folder where my ISP had been tucking IMAP messages over their limit. Now we're both happy.

More in a couple of weeks, when I have some history with both products and am no longer able to lean on my crutch of old hardware.

Posted by kgs at December 19, 2003 08:05 AM

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Hey Karen,

I'm on Thunderbird too on both my laptop and desktop. Just upgraded to .4 after having enjoyed .3 for a few weeks on the desktop and installed .4 on the laptop managed to sync everything up. I, however, have had terrible luck with the spam filter. While it is still running on my laptop, it is not running on my upgraded desktop (.3 to .4).

Looks like I'm not the only one with trouble judging by the posts in the support forum. Not totally convinced Thunderbird is a good replacement for Outlook. Will be interested to hear what you think. I can't bear the thought of switching back though so I guess I'll stay with Thunderbird a bit longer.

I like the named Thunderbird personally. It has two nice associations for me...one is of course the "bird" connection. Anything named after a bird is a-okay in my book. And there's also the "wine" reference. I feel cheap and dirty when everything I open my email client. That can be fun!

Posted by: Lori Ayre at January 2, 2004 07:32 PM

I tried Outlook 2003 and gave up on its Search features. It really gets on the nerves when it comes to searching large folders. Some of my folders are like 400MB.
Thunderbird is fantastic for searching mails by Subject or Sender, you just type it in and it filters the relevant mails.
Outlook has this nifty Business Contact Manager and Calendar, but I don't see much it can do better than the GoldMine Contact Manager I purchased.
And Outlook is heavy. On my grossly underpowered laptop, it is a resource hog. Also Junk Mail filters seem to work far better in Thunderbird.

I will definitely consider looking at Outlook when it improves. With its monolithic single mailbox (.pst) architecture, I think it is technically destined for doom. I was hoping there would be some way to index the mailbox, so that searches are faster. I couldn't find anything resembling it. OTOH, Outlook Express seemed to be creating indexes for my searches.
I wonder what Microsoft wants to do with Outlook. I definitely don't see it having improved much over the years. It still is as bad as it always was. Hope they do something about it. I do like some of the UI though.

Posted by: Sudhir at February 6, 2004 11:48 PM