Web Email Programs

I want to switch to a web email program. It would be handy to have instant access to all my email no matter where I am. I wouldn’t be tied to a specific computer to get my “full” email experience.

I use Outlook 2003 for email. It’s great: fast email searches (with Google Desktop), uses Word as the email creator (so I get all of Word’s strengths), great sorting capabilities, messages can be grouped by conversation (great for seeing replies), built-in image handling (you can crop, resize, and resample images from within the email creation process), and so on. But when I download my email, it permanently stays on my home computer. I can’t get to the downloaded emails again until I am back on that machine.

The current web email programs aren’t up to the task yet.

Hotmail, like most of Microsoft’s online services, is a joke. It lags far behind Google and Yahoo, and it’s not worth any more column space. I don’t understand how a company capable of innovative products, like Windows Vista, Office, the .NET Framework and C#, and Visual Studio, can suck so badly at online services. What gives?

Google’s Gmail is a strong contender, and it has come a long way. It still has serious shortcomings, one of which is no way to mark all messages as read. This is a problem when your Google inbox has 12,157 unread messages piling up (here’s an explanation—note that it is about 10 months after that post). While innovative, Google has a history of arrogance when deciding on user features. Also, when you log into Gmail, you stay logged into Google when you do searches. Do I want Google tracking my searches like that?

Yahoo Mail may be my best bet. Yahoo’s current online mail program is far better than Hotmail (what isn’t?), but it still lags behind Gmail. Yahoo’s revolutionary, next generation online email client should be awesome—taking all of Gmail’s advantages and working them into a much better interface. Once this comes out, I may ditch Outlook and go full-time with an online mail reader.

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