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Author:  Hollow
October 5, 2008



…. Microsoft Exchange!!!!!!!!

Well after years of wishing someone could actually create a mail client that could get rid of outlook, yet still work with Microsoft software on the network, I’m, well, disappointed.

Why am I disappointed that a mail client finally stepped up to be a viable replacement for Outlook? Because it’s not cross platform (Only works in Linux and is specifically designed for Gnome, although it does work in KDE and no doubt other desktops on Linux), it ISN’T as good as Thunderbird in a lot of different ways and in general it isn’t the best mail client out there, in my opinion.

Evolution now also sports quite a nifty backup tool that it didn’t previously have, which is good, except all it does is backup your mail files to a tar file, which you could do yourself by going to the folder the data is stored in and, well, tarring it. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s great for less technical people out there who just want to backup their mail but it still doesn’t provide a method to move that mail to another mail client and a tar file isn’t exactly something really secure like a PST file.

Ok so I’m being a little hard on Evolution here I suppose, but it kinda deserves it. Where Thunderbird really does feel like a mail client that’s been thought out, well written and in general developed for ease of use and as a geniune alternative to outlook, without feeling too far away from it, Evolution just doesn’t.

There’s a lot to analyze here when it comes to comparing mail clients, Evolution comes with a calendar built in and Thunderbird has one that you have to install as a plugin, Evolution now supports exchange and Thunderbird doesn’t, Evolution has a backup utility in it’s file menu and Thunderbird just doesn’t have one. But these minimal facts print a rather unfair picture of Thunderbird in comparison. Thunderbird actually feels like outlook, it is more responsive and more customizable, now that the MAPI protocol is Open Source I’m hoping it won’t be long before Thunderbird becomes exchange capable.

Some of you may be asking “Why does he keep saying outlook so much”, well the thing is, as much as I hate anything not open source on principal I’m also a realist and the thing is Outlook IS the best mail client out there, by far. It may not be the most compliant with other technologies and it may not be free or Open Source but it’s the easiest to use, the most reliable and it has so many features you couldn’t list them all on an A4 piece of paper without doing it in columns and using both sides.

Since I found out that Evolution had released an update and now supported Exchange (Wednesday was when I found out) I have been testing Evolution alongside Thunderbird and I have to say, I’m going back to Thunderbird. If someone asked me if this breakthrough was going to change the way people work in a Windows environment I’d have to say, no, I don’t think it will. The reality is that it can’t be used on Windows and there are very few companies or organisations out there who have an exchange server and let their client PCs use Linux, it just isn’t done. Do I think if this breakthrough had happened on Thunderbird it would change the way people work? Then yes, I do. There are a lot of people out there on Windows who already use Thunderbird at home and Outlook at work.

So come on Mozilla Devs, get the MAPI protocol compliance implemented in Thunderbird for us, give those of us who need to use a Windows PC something other than outlook. I tend to use Open Office wherever I can anyway, whether I’m on Windows or Linux or Mac but I still have to use Outlook if I need to connect to an exchange server.

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