So I’ve just taken the plunge and installed the Open Source Thunderbird email client as a replacement for my Outlook Express program. Before you snigger, I’ve stayed with OE for this long because I have a whole email process built up around it. Over 12,000 messages, stored in a huge number of folders and sub-folders, all linked together to improve my working day. So why the move? Because I was hit by a virus the other day (and no I didn’t click on anything), and suddenly I realised that OE was still a weak security link on my system. Yep, just about the same reason I moved from Internet Explorer to Firefox. So am I happy now I’ve changed? Totally!
I didn’t move before because there I had just too much invested in Outlook Express, and more importantly, I had not found any product which let me migrate completely seamlessly and without interrupting my work-flow. And believe me I tried. A few years ago I tried to move from OE and looked around extensively at alternatives. I downloaded, installed and removed Eudora, Pegasus, The Bat and a couple of lesser known name email programs that I forget. Without exception they all failed on the seamless migration issue. Eudora was the closest, managing to import all the folders and address book, but wouldn’t let me re-arrange things to suit my old system.
Well my news is that Thunderbird is the one! I installed it a couple of days ago and it has done everything that I wanted and more. The install and migration of data from OE was flawless. Shall I repeat that? Flawless. Everything moved across, in the right place, and with no lost data at all. Folders in the right order, address book with the right info, everything. But there are two – no make that three – stand out things that make the switch to Thunderbird so satisfying.
1) I got working with the program within seconds, no account set up needed (a couple of passwords is all), and it was just as though I was using the old system. Sure my signature was missing and there were a couple of tiny things to adjust (like message display order), but it was just amazing how quickly I got up to full speed on the product.
2) There are a bunch of built-in features which I was having to use add-on programs for with OE. The Thunderbird Junk Mail filter meant that I could sling Spam Pal, the automatic BCC obsoleted OE Tools and the mail search box lets me get rid of Copernic (since 98% of my desktop search is email based). Amazing. And these integrated features all work superbly, they’re not cut down. In fact the search is better.
3) Third and not least, there’s a large amount of extensions that I can install if I need extra functionality. Unfortunately the one I needed most – the Hotmail web mail access feature – doesn’t seem to work for me, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know.
So that’s it really. If you’re looking for a simply great email client, with a ton of extra features and config options that you can use if you want, which also lets you transfer across from OE without a hitch, then Thunderbird is the one to go for. No question. So here we are with Open Source: 2, Microsoft: 0.