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Is Open-Source all about choices? Part 2

Manik Chand Patnaik
Sat Mar 04 22:28:17 2006

In the previous part I have discussed on the Browser and now it is the turn of the E-mail Client.

E-Mail Client

The major players in this area are not very strictly mail clients but more than that. In Windows, Microsoft's Outlook (Commercial) and Outlook Express (Free but Not Open-source) are deeply set. Other commercial offerings from various other companies also find their clientelle. From the free ones, Thunderbird from Mozilla is rapidly catching up with the rest but its growth is not that exciting in the lines of FireFox. On Linux the situation is quite better. Both Kmail and Evolution are good mail clients. Kmail can be used as a part of the Kontact groupware which is quite in the lines of Evolution. I have used both of the clients and am personally quite satisfied with them. However an issue remains which needs discussion. The issue of web-mail.

Web Mail

Both Netscape and Outlook(also OE) link well with their web-mail offerings. HotMail and MSN users use Microsoft's tools to get their web-mail. Lycos offers a plugin (Lycos Insider) for Outlook and OE for their web-mail (WebDAV based). Some years ago I had tried to access mail from Netscape Netcentre through OE and it failed. So I presumed that probably the Netscape people don't want mail to be accessed from any other client than Netscape. Here let's find who are the users for this kind of mail?

Most of the general users who own a computer and have limited Internet connectivity are the probable users for the system. Yahoo! is the Leader in the field of web-mail. MSN and HotMail is dependent on the Microsoft's Muscle and Lycos is strong in Europe. There are several other web-mail offerings like Gmail and mail.com etc.

Getting web-mail through the mail client is a very good proposition because it saves time to login and fetch mail, makes it easy to organise and reply with limited internet activity. Only Thunderbird features plugins to make web-mail work with the mail client. I tried the web-mail plugins and found that from my two Yahoo! IDs only one works and the Lycos plugin does not work at all. Both of the groupware clients Kontact and Evolution does not feature web-mail integration.

Personally I feel that the POP is a very inefficient way to use mail because you can-not select what to download and what not to download. In the face of the rise of spam the choice is too limited. Most ISPs and Web-Service-providers don't give IMAP access so web-mail with WebDAV is the better solution available for now. Whether they will be supported with the open-source mail and groupware clients? only time will tell.

Did I get choice here? consider for yourself. Thunderbird? Kmail? Evolution? Web-mail or POP?


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