The sorry state of mail user agents

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I’ve been moaning on and off about how much e-mail clients, or more specifically – “personal information managers” – simply suck. All of them – there isn’t one client software that is useful in all aspects.

I mean – if you are a simple e-mail user: have one account with which you send a few emails, receive a few e-mails and sometimes forward something to your list of friends – then you have several good options including a few web-mail systems.

If, on the other hand, you are more serious in your communication requirements and you need to:

  • Work with multiple e-mail accounts and manage them separately but with the option of moving stuff between accounts.
  • Connect with MS-Exchange (still most companies in Israel use MS-Exchange for their groupware backend)
  • Work with multiple mailing lists with different policies and different internal filing requirements
  • Keep all your past communications for reference
  • Inter-operate with multiple shared calendaring systems, and specifically with other people’s calendars in a heterogeneous environment (some people do not believe there are e-mail clients other then MS-Outlook)
  • Do all this on multiple computers so that e-mail, address books, calendars and what-not are transparently available on all computers
  • Use Linux as your computing platform of choice.

Then you are basically out of luck. The Linux requirement is not that of a problem really (contrary to what many people keep saying when they nag me about moving to MS-Outlook) as the situation isn’t really better in Windows or Mac except that you can’t get Evolution to work there and theoretically Evolution could provide what I need.

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