Desktop Email Has Coalesced

The number of desktop email clients in widespread use appears to be decreasing (although there are many clients available). The increasing use of Webmail interfaces (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail/Live, etc.) is arguably an influence on this.

We believe a key reason is that the major platforms all have a first-rate “default” interface, and there is little reason for most people to choose anything else.

  • Mac OS has the excellent — if prosaically named — Mail.
  • Linux has the open source Thunderbird interface, which is now being developed by Mozilla Messaging — a for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation; its sister company, the Mozilla Corporation, develops the Firefox browser. Thunderbird has a credible core development organization, as well as a wide open source community and a range of associated tools and plugins.
  • Windows has Outlook, which most Windows business users use, but is purchased as an extra. Consumers now have Windows Live Mail, which replaces the older Outlook Express. Thunderbird is a good alternative for business users who do not want to pay for Outlook.

It is likely that this small set of user interfaces will increasingly squeeze out alternatives, as we saw, for example, with Eudora.

Steve Kille, with Richi Jennings

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