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Outlook Express was a wonderful email program and I understand people's reluctance to move to something else, but Microsoft stopped supporting it a long time ago.

Hi, Leo. I hate Windows 7 and I'm thinking of getting Windows 8. Will I be able to use Outlook Express on that version? Because I miss dreadfully not being able to use it on Windows 7.

In this excerpt from Answercast #58, I look again at why Outlook Express must die and the fact that it is not coming back.

Windows 8

Well, I'll put it this way: if you don't like Windows 7, you're really not going to like Windows 8.

It's Windows 7 and then some. The number of changes that they continue to make are fairly dramatic and people that are averse to change are probably not going to enjoy this either.

Outlook Express is dead

To answer your question about Outlook Express - Outlook Express is dead. Dead, dead, dead. It is not coming back.

There is no hope for it coming back and in fact, I strongly, strongly recommend that anybody who is still using Outlook Express seriously consider moving to a different email program.

I personally use and recommend Thunderbird, but there are many, many alternatives.

Security issues

The problem with Outlook Express is that Microsoft hasn't supported it now for close to a decade. That means that there have been no bug fixes.

The problem that I have with Outlook Express (from a purely practical point of view) is simply that I hear of more email being lost due to Outlook Express than pretty much any other reason. There are bugs in the program:

  • There are issues that are simply not going to get fixed.

  • There are security issues that are simply not going to be addressed.

It's not that I don't like Outlook Express. Outlook Express was a wonderful email program and I understand people's real reluctance to move to something else. Outlook Express worked really well for a really long time. But the fact of the matter is Microsoft stopped supporting it a long time ago. It wasn't in Vista; it wasn't in Windows 7 and it's not going to be in Windows 8.

Article C5875 - October 3, 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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9 Comments
Egbert Zijlema
October 5, 2012 9:58 AM

Okay, it me not be in Vista and higher. But if you save it from an older version, for instance XP, then you should be able to install it under Vista, 7 and 8 (I believe).

I've heard of a hack to get it working in Vista, but apparently key support functions it required were removed or changed in Windows 7 so that even that hack no longer works. The only way to run Outlook Express in Windows 7 or later is to run a virtual machine running Windows XP within Windows 7. That's fairly cumbersome for day-to-day use.
Leo
05-Oct-2012

Mark J
October 5, 2012 10:09 AM

@Egbert
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), it isn't possible to copy OE from XP and install it in other versions of Windows. If you are using Windows 7 professional or Ultimate, you can install XP mode which is a a full version of Windows XP installed on a virtual machine. This comes with OE6 pre-installed, but as Leo warns, OE is not supported by MS and has several known bugs which will never be patched.

Tom Wright
October 5, 2012 11:28 AM

What are the several known bugs that will never be patched?

I don't have a list, but my understanding is that the revolve around .dbx file problems and corruption when the files get large. (Which is kind of why I consider it a ticking time bomb ... everything's fine until until you get that one message that pushes a .dbx file over whatever the threshold might be.)
Leo
05-Oct-2012

Egbert Zijlema
October 6, 2012 3:08 AM

I never had problems with OE, anyway as far as I know, and never encountered major bugs. The only one I know of is a programmer's message for the user of OE, so it should be shown in a Windows message box, but it does appear in the text field. The user/sender should delete this before clicking the send-button, but many users "forget" this, which implies that the receivers of the e-mail get a message they don't understand.

Thanks Leo for your additional info (i.e. your cristal clear reply under my first comment). Did not know that. Now what? Is using Windows Mail or Windows Live Mail not a good idea? It is a modernized version of the good old OE6. It got indeed a new "front door" but behind the UI the same functions are running and as far as I've seen in an exact copy of the old OE6-environment.
Regards,
Egbert

"Now what" comes down to personal taste. I've been recommending Thunderbird, but there are many many alternatives. Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail, to the best of my knowledge, don't carry forward Outlook Express's problems (most notably they each have a completely different, and less convoluted, database system for storing your email).
Leo
08-Oct-2012

BAW30s
October 6, 2012 3:40 AM

I believe that as OE was integrated with Internet Explorer up to version 6 the method for installing it in Vista was to uninstall Internet Explorer, reinstall Internet Explorer 6 (widely available) and then update Internet Explorer - Outlook Express remains, as it does in XP when IE is updated. Maybe Internet Explorer 6 can be installed (eg by getting the stand alone version and using compatibility mode) in Windows 7 or 8, but I haven't been able to try it yet; Leo's research suggests not.

steven
October 6, 2012 4:33 AM

Why doesn't everybody here download and install Windows live mail?

BAW30s
October 9, 2012 6:03 AM

Thw Wikipedia article on Windows Mail gives instructions on how to enable it in Windows 7 and 8.

Terry C
November 14, 2012 3:05 AM

steven, everybody here does not download Win Live Mail because it is rubbish.

Wicky
January 20, 2013 6:10 PM

Actually OE6 can be used in Win 7 or Win 8, check it out: https://sites.google.com/site/simpledotnet/outlook-express-6

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