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Email Programs

While 90% of pc users use a Microsoft product, there are overall a few alternatives.

  • Microsoft Outlook Express
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Netscape
  • Eudora
  • Thunderbird

Microsoft Outlook Express

This program and Outlook share some commonalities but have some major differences also. What is common is how they display email content. When you receive an email, often there are fancy fonts and pictures. Such emails contain html code, and so to display these, Outlook Express and Outlook both call on (da da da duh…) Internet Explorer (at least it’s innards) to show the email. The problem of course is the email could hold undesirable html code, perhaps javascript or Active X codes to take over parts of your pc. So what this means is any vulnerabilities your Internet Explorer has completely exposes you as well in the world of email.

Nonetheless, Outlook Express is very popular. The main reason is because it is free,


coming in a bundle with Windows or Internet Explorer. The main problems that happen with it are corrupt storage files and such. So therefore the main recommendation for a user of this program is to backup the data files. The email files live in an “Identities” folder under "Local Settings." The Address Book lives separately in it’s own folder in “Application Data.” For expert help online if problems arise see

Microsoft Outlook

This is a program which is bundled with Microsoft Office. It includes extra features of that of a personal information manager (PIM) for scheduling and tasks. It’s contents are basically stored in one file which ends in an extension of .pst, under a subfolder of the “Local Settings” folder. The main issue, as discussed above is the integration with Internet Explorer. To combat that, Microsoft has greatly improved the product in the 2003 version, whereby active content is not run even in preview mode. That version also has a Spam catching folder, but moreover they have greatly increased the size limit of that .pst file. Previously the program would crash when the file got to 2 gigs in size.


Where one time Netscape was a juggernaut in the internet world and proving a worthy rival to Internet Explorer (considering Netscape's browser preceded Microsoft's), they lost their way having consumed AOL and Time Warner. What this means is that, from a study in late 2004, over 90% of the Nescape programs being used then were version 4.x users (from that hey day). The current version is 8.X (which by the way has no email client – for that stick with version 7.2). One significant aspect of Netscape which was superior was not using Internet Explorer (of course) to render emails which had html. Their own browser was used. Someone sending you an email designed to run rampant in Outlook Express/Internet Explorer would do basically nothing in Netscape.

In time users of the older Netscape version found the Netscape browser didn’t support things they needed, and they either upgraded or went away to something like a Microsoft product. However, for many, a simple remedy existed: if an email contained a link of interest, just right click it “copy link location” and then paste it into Internet Explorer’s address bar.

More history information, here:


Here we’ll jump in and discuss the new challenger, tied to Firefox. It has some funny default program settings, the main one being in limiting incoming email to certain sizes. We’ve only seen a few people using it and so won’t comment a lot other than they were fighting it’s features and the user experience wasn’t what they wanted.

More information on it (and mainly Firefox’s) history, here:


This program has been around a long time, also an outgrowth of work done at the University of Illinois (like Netscape's origins), and offers many powerful features. Many users like the way mail from multiple email accounts is handled, while others appreciated the mail being stored in text files. Modern versions offer spam filtering based on Bayesian rules.