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Vista's Windows Mail is not a good replacement for Outlook Express

01/26/08

Permalink 03:28:11 pm by guy, Categories: Windows, Random Stuff , Tags: vista, windows live mail, windows mail

When I bought my new laptop last summer it came with Windows Vista.  This was my first experience with Vista.  One of the first changes that I found was the lack of Outlook Express.  It has been replaced by Windows Mail in Vista.  I don’t handle much mail, so Outlook Express had always been good enough.  I was able to migrate my settings and old mail successfully.  No problem, everything seemed pretty familiar.

Then, I bought my wife a new laptop.  Again, migration went pretty smoothly and it was familiar enough that my wife seemed happy.  It didn’t take but a day or two before she started complaining.  She is a heavy email user compared with me (by far!).  Her complaint was that the To: field was no longer autocompleting her contact’s addresses.  I wrote it off as something that would fix itself as the new install memorized the addresses that she used daily.  A week or two later she was still complaining that it still wasn’t "remembering" and autocompleting her addresses.  I logged in and wrote an email to myself on her computer and then went to write a second message to myself.  No problem, autocomplete picked up my address the second time and I felt smug that she was wrong.  After all, I hadn’t had any problem with it working on my computer!

The next day she demonstrated to me that it was no longer autocompleting my address.  Hmmmmm… She had me convinced now, what was up.  Clearly something had to be wrong with her configuration, right?  Well, a long story short, Windows Mail has a limited capacity for remembering autocomplete addresses.  It was a while back that I worked on this, but I believe that it stores like the last 20 addresses you use in the registry somewhere.  What happens, and this is why I didn’t have the problem, is that if you have a lot of contacts they roll off the memorized list pretty quickly.  Not a problem if you only correspond with a small group of people, but not so useful if you are an email maniac or even a moderate user!

This problem alone was enough of a problem that I HAD to get her migrated to an alternative email client.  After a bit of research I found an excellent replacement, but it surprised me what it was.  The replacement I’m using is Windows Live Mail, a free download from the mothership (MS).  I discovered the answer in Wikipedia of all places.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Mail if you read the section on "Removed Features" there is a reference to the Windows Live Mail client being more full featured.  I hadn’t considered this as an alternative because I associate the "Live" products with the web and Hotmail, not full featured clients.  As it turns out, the Live Mail client is much more powerful and my wife was immediately happy.  Autocomplete worked perfectly and I haven’t heard another complaint since I installed it.

 Here is the link:  http://get.live.com/wlmail/overview

 For the life of me, I can’t understand why MS chose to integrate Windows Mail instead of Windows Live Mail into Vista!

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I'm a generalist, at least if I'm honest. In my job I am primarily a developer, but also a sysadmin, and (as little as possible) technical support. I know a little about a lot of things, a lot about some things, and everything about nothing. Here I will post random learnings...

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