Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Windows Mail and Outlook Express are gone, and it's unlikely that Microsoft will revive them out of the archives. I have some suggestions for moving forward.

Hi, Leo. I know that you suggested a number of email programs that can be used on Windows 7. But my experience is simply that clients of mine just don't like them. As a result, I've managed to put Windows Mail, not the extremely unpopular Windows Live Mail, on for them. Who can one write to in Microsoft and expect a reply and ask if they'd favorably consider making Windows Mail an available upgrade installation for Windows 7 users? In my view, this option could have many consider an earlier upgrade to the OS from XP.

In this excerpt from Answercast #31, I use my past experience in working for Microsoft to explain why they don't like old versions of software and some ways to move forward into using email software that computer users will enjoy.

Re-releasing Windows Mail

In my opinion, this is a lost cause. Not only has Windows Mail itself been abandoned, if you will, by Microsoft: it's been abandoned now for a good two to three years.

Having worked there, I know that dredging something out from history like that and repackaging it up is actually a fairly major effort and something that Microsoft is very loathe to do. They much prefer to put their efforts into new things.

What they would be making their trade-off against is:

  • Do I take this software engineer (or rather this team of product engineers) and do I have them work on Windows 8 and products for the future...
  • Or do I have them work on this email program that we've been ignoring for the last three years?

In short, it just ain't gonna happen. I'm sorry. It just isn't.

Contact at Microsoft

To answer your question, no, I actually don't have a contact for you. I have no idea who one would contact and who one would bring that idea to, to begin with.

Email programs

Ultimately, I think you would be better served in a couple of different ways:

  • One is, to the extent that you can, learn to love the bomb. Learn to love Windows Live Mail, or the web interface, or Gmail, or any of the current instances of email programs that you're already familiar with and/or email web interfaces.

  • The only other thing I can suggest is: there are literally hundreds of different email programs. The ones that I typically suggest are Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook as part of Office.

There are so many more email programs out there that I can't even begin to scratch the surface on what they all are. If it's really that big of a problem for you, what I would strongly recommend is that you go out and search for some of those alternatives.

I honestly don't know what your success rate is going to be. If your clients are expecting Windows Mail, and only Windows Mail, then there is no path that I can see that will satisfy them; be it finding another email program or trying to dredge up Windows Mail from Microsoft's archives.

Gotta move forward

Ultimately, I think that some change here is not just inevitable, but unfortunately required in order to move forward.

I really think that what you're asking for, what you're looking for isn't there. And to be fair, you're not alone. What people would love, absolutely love, Microsoft to do is not dredge Windows Mail... they want Microsoft to support Outlook Express. They want Microsoft to take Outlook Express out of its archives from 10 years ago and give that a product a revision.

Again, I just don't see it happening.

I would strongly recommend that you use Windows Live's feedback forums to potentially provide feedback on the current software: Windows Live Mail, the one that many people do not like. Other than that, I really don't see an answer to this to ultimately make your clients happy... other than finding something that perhaps they can just live with.

Article C5532 - July 1, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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5 Comments
Charles H Small
July 3, 2012 8:15 AM

Leo, I use, love, and recommend Mozilla Thunderbird for one and only one reason: It's unheralded, and as far as I know, unique "Local Folders." It took me a while to figure out what to do with them. Like many people today, I have a public e-mail address (@yahoo.com), a business e-mail address, a private e-mail address for friends and family, and the e-mail address that come with Google+, Microsoft Live, Facebook etc. I installed them all in Thunderbird and it checks them all with one click (Yowsah!). After installation, I went through each account's setup screens and diverted Sent, Archive, and Spam to the appropriate Local Folders (I left Trash with each account)! Under Local:Archive I further set up a folder hierarchy for my friends and clients. That way all the e-mail messages that I would want to keep are in one place and not attached to any one account. So accounts can come and go, but my saved e-mails and address book persist. I suggest you do an exposition on why one would want to do so and how to do it step-by-step. I have two complaints about Thunderbird: the lack of a backup menu choice (you can do it but it's not nice so you should explain how to do a backup too) and the fact that the "previous" and "next" buttons have to be added to the menu bar. -- Chuck ###

Steven
July 3, 2012 9:09 AM

WLM isn't all that good but if they could JUST manage to put the email icon back where it oughta be it would helpful. The taskbar truncates the titles to the point you must mouse to see (x) in the title. My only use away from home is when my computer beaks and I have to go to the library.

James
July 3, 2012 11:35 AM

Hey Chuck (Charles H Small), I do the same as you. All mail from all accounts ends up in the Local Folders. It makes it easier to manage.

As far as backing up goes, I went and moved my profile (for both Thunderbird and Firefox) - they have an article on one of their websites. I moved my profiles to a folder I call "Mozilla" which is in my "My Documents" folder. So whenever "My Documents" gets backed up, so does my mail. And if I want to do my own backup in between, it's easy enough to just copy the "Mozilla" folder somewhere else. Before you could sync your Firefox profile, I copied that folder to my laptop and told Firefox on my laptop where the profile was located. It was an easy way to have an identical copy of Firefox on both my desktop and laptop.

grump3
July 3, 2012 12:14 PM

OE is the reason we've remained with XP despite having purchased a new W7 PC which remains unused.
Touch-screens & tablets introduced with W8 leave us cold.
M$ may win over the younger generations with their latest & greatest baubles but us oldies are sick & tired of being told that we need to upgrade & constantly re-learn a new OS. We don't want to abandon tools we're familiar & comfortable with.
I have many friends who state they will stick with XP/OE to the bitter end then switch to Linux/Thunderbird.

Dan
July 5, 2012 7:56 AM

I am an old geezer that does not always enjoy being forced to change the way I work with programs, but usually find out that once I get used to the new ways of doing things, I am better off. I understand the anger and confusion, but one way of keeping your mind sharp is keeping it active by learning new things. Like Leo said - there are many email aps out there - if you don't like the one you are stuck with, then find another one you would like. That is how the market works! Software companies don't owe you anything. It is too expensive to keep up old versions of software AND develop new versions. I admit that sometimes they get it wrong (Edsel, Windows ME, Vista), but a lot of times they get it right - if you just give it a chance and work with it! It took me a little time to figure out the new way Office 2007 worked (after using 97 for so many years) – I was slow at finding what I wanted – but once I got used to the new way, I wondered why they didn’t do it like that from the start – much more productive with the newer look!

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