Beyond Mail 3.0 Internet Edition
This package was the first program to bring rules-based message management and forms routeing to email.
Beyond Mail?s rules, or filters, cover a range of actions, which include filing messages, sending out-of-the-office replies to incoming mail when you?re away and performing sophisticated tasks that would otherwise require CGI scripting.
Basic actions, such as automatic replies, don?t have to be constructed ? you just pluck them from a menu of ready-made options. Even for advanced rules, you don?t have to write code, but just assemble them from menu-based lists of programming elements.
A technical support department might use Beyond Mail to generate automated responses that trigger specific applications to run when one set of conditions applies, and another application to run under different conditions. By passing incoming data from an email message to another application, a Beyond Mail script can process incoming orders, trigger shipments and so on.
Beyond Mail provides standard forms, such as meeting notices and purchase requests, which though ready-made are intelligent. For instance, the meeting form prompts you to enter the date and location of a meeting. The received message will appear as a form to another Beyond Mail user.
The package also includes a Message Reminder: at a set time, the reminder you composed will open and the original email will be highlighted. Beyond Mail is the perfect intranet mail program for businesses.
Coordinate.com: 001 617 273 7000
Claris Emailer 1.2
As Mac loyalists might expect, Claris Emailer is a model of intelligent design. It organises messages clearly, puts key commands within easy reach and makes optional settings easy to find. That said, the program is starting to show signs of age. Still very much a text-messaging program, it can?t display graphics in mail messages or recognise URLs. And it won?t let you leave messages on a mail server, which makes it difficult to work with mail from more than one location. You can choose rules for filtering your mail, but they aren?t especially powerful. Emailer can generate automatic replies, forward mail and file messages in folders you specify, but it won?t let you reply with a binary file. Your in-box is clearly separated from other folders. Mail filters are easily managed from a spreadsheet-like table and you can quickly set up procedures whereby Emailer does your basic mail handling. You can choose whether incoming messages are moved to a different folder after you have read them or remain in the in-box. The program lets you send and receive messages using mail accounts at multiple Internet addresses. There are 23 different Internet domains to choose from, so you don?t need to be letter-perfect when you enter a domain name. Claris: 0800 422322
E-Mail Connection 3.1
Connectsoft?s E-Mail Connection began life as a universal mail client for Compuserve, MCI Mail and Prodigy messaging services. Over time, more mail systems were added, including modules for Internet mail, LAN mail packages and wireless services, which made it the best option for any Windows user who needed to keep track of mail accounts from multiple providers.
E-Mail Connection now offers a range of options, including some you won?t find elsewhere. For example, you can create a schedule specifying the time on every day of the week when mail will be checked for each online service. This means you can easily co-ordinate mail with changing schedules.
You can also create message template forms. Mail folders and menu options are well laid out, and toolbars provide easy access to features which are frequently used.
Furthermore, E-Mail Connection is the first mail program to deliver full RSA Verisign encryption. It includes a Wizard to help you create a public key which is automatically added to your messages. You cannot link to a URL in a mail message and there?s virtually no mail filtering, short of clearing out old messages after an expiry date. However, it?s worth living with these limitations for the convenience of a one-stop email manager.
Connectsoft: 001 206 827 6467
Eudora Pro 3.0
Eudora first arrived on many desktops as part of Netscape Navigator 1.x Personal Edition. When Netscape added its own mail manager to Navigator 2.x, the product was once again on its own, but had already won a vast following. Qualcomm now claims market leadership, with more than 10 million users.
One of the advantages of the earlier versions of Eudora Pro over the competition was rules-based filters. In version 3.0, it continues to press that advantage. Rather than just file a message or reply with boiler-plate text, new rules can trigger an elaborate series of actions when mail arrives.
You can combine two different conditions in setting a filter, choosing from a wide range of options for the trigger, including ?contains?, ?starts with? or ?ends with? designations for text strings.
When a condition is met, it initiates a sequence of up to five actions, such as playing a sound file, running an application or forwarding a message or attachment to another user. When a message arrives with work you?re expecting, you can play a sound file you recorded just for this message, launch the application you?ll need to work on it and forward a copy of the message.
Eudora Pro 3.0 also introduces stationery ? templates based on messages you send frequently, with or without variations. This means that you don?t have to repeat actions, such as selecting a list of addressees or typing standard text. It is also easy to customise signatures.
In the long run, Eudora 3.0?s greatest impact could be the plug-in API it introduces. An early taste of this is available on the Edit menu ? Eudora Pro ships with message plug-ins which perform mundane chores such as switching between cases and sorting lists.
Even those who don?t crave bells and whistles should find this program?s flexibility attractive. If you don?t like the way Eudora does something, just change it. Almost every setting can be adjusted.
Qualcomm: 01223 501333
Microsoft Exchange for Windows 95 4.0
Exchange for Windows 95 is the client for Microsoft Exchange Server, the messaging component of Microsoft?s enterprise-level Back Office suite. To help prepare the market for Exchange Server, Microsoft included the Exchange client with Windows 95.
Exchange wasn?t designed as an Internet mail manager, and it shows. A message creation window dominated by font formatting commands works only when you connect to an Exchange server. But it works as a manager, provided you install Windows TCP/IP drivers, although you?ll miss out on a few of the latest standards.
Exchange has a number of minor weaknesses, the most glaring of which is its inability to save addresses from incoming mail in your personal address book. If your network runs Exchange Server, you can find names in the central directory. If not, you?ll need to cut and paste to avoid re-typing long addresses. There are no automatic reply or mail filtering rules, nor will Exchange automatically insert a signature file.
If you frequently check your mail from other systems, one feature of Exchange will be particularly appealing ? you can log on in Remote Mail mode and view headers without downloading the full message. When you see a message you want to retrieve, you can move it to your system or copy it while leaving the original on the server. It?s a bit more work than a typical ?leave on server? option, but it gives you more control.
Microsoft: 0345 002000
ZMail Pro 6.0
Whether you?re after technical standards or convenience, Zmail covers the territory. It?s one of the first mail clients to support Imap4 in any depth and the only program we?ve seen with a Feelings menu ? you can insert happy or sad faces into messages.
The Windows version gives access to some extremely advanced features. You can insert HTML code directly into messages for viewing in Web-page format, protect messages using key encryption, and manage mail on an Imap4 server using folders which you control from the client software. The Mac and Unix versions are a few months behind the Windows package and at the time of testing didn?t support Imap or inline HTML.
For basic functions, Zmail?s filtering system is easy to use. You can set rules for forwarding, filing or deleting mail from a drop-down list. For more complex actions you can write rules using Zscript, Zmail?s own script editor.
There is a wide range of management features. The Phone Tag applet speeds up composing phone messages ? they are sent as ordinary emails ? but the feature guides you through their standard fields. You can do an ordinary search through the text of all messages or set up fast sear-ches by indexing all messages. The first indexed searches take a few minutes, but after that you?ll be able to find words or phrases in seconds.
Netmanage: 01483 881800
Pegasus Mail 2.42
Pegasus Mail is probably the best established freeware/shareware email program around. It?s the type of software that power users love, full of options for controlling exactly how it handles your mail when it arrives. Plus, it?s the only product we?ve seen that?s available for DOS, Mac, Windows and Unix.
Pegasus Mail 2.42 for Windows 95 was installed and checking mail in a matter of minutes, but setting it up to carry out more basic actions, such as polling for mail on startup or retaining copies of outgoing messages, took too long. To its credit, though, it is crystal clear on difficult topics, such as creating mail filters.
Without the manual, setting up basic functions could be puzzling. It took us four attempts to enable automatic mail polling. You?ll find this checkbox item under the Advanced Configuration Options menu, hidden behind a Network Configuration menu which warns that ?the assistance of an experienced user is recommended before accessing?. You may also need an experienced user to help with simple jobs such as adding a time stamp to your messages.
Despite this, power users are unlikely to fall out of love with the software, and a new development kit allows programmers to write plug-in utilities. If you?ve got the time to learn to use it, Pegasus Mail has enough power to justify the hours you?ll spend learning it. You can download it free from the Pegasus Web site.
Netscape Navigator Mail 3.0
Netscape Mail could well be the most widely distributed Internet mail software in the world. Since Netscape added its own mail client to Navigator 2.0 in autumn 1995, millions of copies have been installed on systems around the world. Yet the package is hardly the most popular email client ? Eudora lays claim to that distinction, according to market studies.
Navigator?s mail manager provides the most essential features, such as Mime attachments, saving incoming names to an address book and searching for text in messages. But it lacks rules-based filtering and many other conveniences which are common in the current generation of email clients. It can?t play a sound when new mail arrives, for instance, nor will it unencode an outgoing file. Also, it doesn?t have a spell-checker.
Netscape Mail is easy to use, and incoming and sent messages are plainly marked. But the three-window design is somewhat restrictive ? the default screen configuration reserves too little space for displaying message text. You can re-size the windows, but we found ourselves repeatedly readjusting the space allocated to the list of messages versus message text.
The only unique feature in Netscape Mail is ROT13 scrambling and unscrambling. (ROT13, the code created to mask off-colour language, works by shifting each letter 13 characters on alphabetically.) If you use Netscape Navigator, you can nominate Navigator Mail as the default program for sending mail from a Web site and choose something more robust for the rest of your mail chores. Just be sure to remove the incoming mail server name on Netscape?s Mail and News Server options. Netscape Navigator is arguably the best browser on the market. Unfortunately, its mail component is not in the same league.
Netscape: 01638 666848
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