We often complain that too many business users automatically switch to Microsoft Office, rather than their free equivalents. Partly as they don’t have time to worry about compatibility issues, but another reason could be Microsoft Outlook. For business users, there are few better alternatives on the Windows platform. Even email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird, ideal for the home user, were never taken up en masse for office use.
Microsoft Outlook has some clear advantages: use an Exchange server and you can synchronise calendar and ‘to do’ tasks between employees, even if they are situated in different offices. It’s well-designed, too, making the process of writing and sending emails, a breeze. Quite frankly, if you have to answer as many emails as we do, during the day, you want the minimum of fuss with your email client.
Problem is, it’s slow as a dog. If you start your Windows-based computer and open Microsoft Outlook, you often have to hang around with a fairly unresponsive computer for 15 or so minutes whilst Outlook downloads and processes your incoming email. Factor in a security tool for checking and sorting email for security hazards and it can take way too long to process your data.
How many legitimate alternatives are there to Microsoft Outlook? Few. However, the brand new Postbox cross-platform email client is an alternative that might, finally, give Outlook some competition.
It’s difficult to describe, but Postbox has some genuinely new and unique functionality. For example, you can preview and double-click to open an email message, but also open within a new tab, much like a web browser. This means you can keep important emails open within a tab, reminding yourself to answer them later in the day, when you have more time.
You can add topics to your email (such as ‘important’), then quickly locate all emails you’ve previously flagged with this topic. Open an email and you can see a list of the contacts in the email, web links and images that are associated with the message. You can view messages in the standard (list) format or group by conversations, which some people prefer.
We’ve tried the Mac and Windows version of this email client. The Mac version is more polished and looks like it will replace our default ‘Mail’ client. However, the Windows version does still need some work – for example, HTML-based emails wouldn’t render until we went out of the email message and then back again.