BOOT CAMP 246 (08/10/02)


Alternative Internet and Email Programs, part 2


Outlook Express is the world’s most popular email program and it’s not difficult to see why. To begin with it’s free, well featured, very flexible, easy to use and after years of steady evolution, perfectly suited to home and SoHo applications. It is an accepted worldwide standard but unfortunately it is plagued by viruses and emailer worms, like Bugbrear, which is currently spreading like wildfire. Provided you download the latest security patches and your anti-virus software is kept up to date the risk of infection is actually quite small but it’s still a big concern for a lot of PC owners. 


The simplest way to avoid trouble is to change to another email client program. In most cases they’re no less vulnerable to virus attack but the idiots who create them concentrate on exploiting loopholes in OE and generally can’t be bothered with other programs because the chances of their handiwork spreading or causing significant mayhem is vastly reduced.


Even if you are confident of your security measures there are other reasons to have more than one email program on your PC. Outlook Express does a lot of things very well but it does have a number of limitations, particularly for high volume business use. OE is also a fairly austere design, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with that there are several programs that make it easier to liven up your emails with fancy backgrounds and graphics, animation and sound.


It is possible to run two or more email client programs side by side on your PC, and you should be able to revert to OE without any problems, but when installing new email software pay attention to the messages that appear on the screen, and it’s a good idea to keep OE as your default, until you are ready to make the change. Most of the alternative programs will import OE account settings, messages and your address book and leave the originals intact but it’s sensible to backup essential data, before you install any new software. 


CALYPSO, freeware, 4.2Mb,

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP)

If all you need are basic email facilities, with a spell checker and junk mail filters, compatibility with all popular email systems, a natural immunity to the vast majority of viruses and worms but without any unnecessary bells and whistles, then Calypso is definitely worth considering. Layout and operation are reassuringly familiar and it can import messages from OE, Netscape and other popular email programs.



EUDORA, freeware/adware/paidware, 6.4Mb,

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP, MAC)

Eudora has been around in one form or another since the early 1990s and is one of the most popular and enduring alternatives to Outlook Express. Since the release of version 4.3 in 2000 it has become a very worth rival to anything Microsoft has had to offer. It’s compatible with all common email protocols and its intuitive filing system is especially good at handling large amounts of email. There are lots of neat little touches in the latest release, like the facility to add photographs to the address book it’s also very secure and can monitor both incoming and outgoing emails for offensive content. Eudora is now available in three flavours: a basic free ‘lite’ version, a free and fully featured version with advertising content, or you can buy the ad-free ‘paid’ variant on-line for $39.95. One download covers all and you can easily upgrade if you like what you see.   



GROUP MAIL, freeware, 4.85Mb,

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP)

Group Mail fills in one of OE’s most significant shortcomings – for business users at least -- namely the ability to send out personalised or multiple emails, mailshots, newsletters and SMS text messages to groups and large numbers of addresses. It includes a number of powerful management tools, to organise lists and subscriptions and it can import data and information from most database programs and address books. The free version is designed for home and small business users and can only send to 100 recipients at a time; Group Mail Pro, the full version, costs $80.



INCREDIMAIL, free/adware, 5.2Mb

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP)

Incredimail is the wild and wacky alternative to OE with loads of funky templates, greetings cards, animations, text effects and sounds for users to download. It’s fun to use with clever use of graphics and it has a built-in audio recorder, so you can attach voice messages to your emails. The only downside is that your emails may end up quite large and not everyone will appreciate the extra time they take to download but if you want to try something different it’s definitely worth trying.



MOZILLA, freeware, 11Mb,

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP, MAC, Linux)

Mozilla is an Internet browser (see last week’s Boot Camp) but it has a built-in email program that looks and works a lot like Netscape Messenger (Mozilla is based on Netscape components). It’s well specified, compatible with all current standards and simple to use, moreover the fact that you can quickly and easily switch from Internet to email is very convenient.



PEGASUS, freeware, 3.8Mb,

(Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP)

Reputed to be the Internet’s longest serving email client Pegasus is another old-timer with the first version released way back in 1990. Over the years it has earned a good reputation for reliability and is a firm favourite with business users. It is particularly well suited to running on a network and it has many advanced features including support for multiple identities, rule-based filtering, mail merge, spell checker and powerful encryption facilities.




If that little lot is not enough you’ll find a large assortment of alternative email programs on the Tucows web site at:


Next week – All about USB





A PC or program used to access files on another PC on a network



A facility in some email programs to automatically delete messages without them being downloaded or read, according to a set of ‘rules’ based on the sender’s address or keywords in the subject line or message.



Short Message Service, used to send brief text messages (up to 160 characters) to mobile phones



Even with all the top class alternatives on offer Outlook Express is hard to beat and here’s a quick tip to make it even more functional. If you find that you are constantly having to re-write the same email, or maybe repeat the same paragraph or block of text you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by writing it out just once and saving it in the body of a blank email message in the Drafts folder. The next time you need it just go to Drafts, open the message, highlight the block of text press Ctrl + C to copy it to the clipboard, open the new message window and press Ctrl + V to paste it.

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