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ARCHIVE: Outlook Express to Thunderbird

Sun. Jul 10th 2005, 08:24pm:

I had been using Outlook Express as my primary email client since 1998. Other than being one of the earliest free email clients with support for POP3, SMTP, IMAP, NNTP, SSL etc., it is also quite fast and handled my 3gb+ of emails without any slowdown. It had pretty much every feature I would need including support for multiple POP accounts that shared the same set of local folders (Inbox, Outbox, Sent, Draft, and folders of my choice).

One of the features Outlook Express doesn't have is Junk Mail Filtering and I had been using POPFile for over two years now. POPFile is a proxy Bayesian spam parser that can change the subject of incoming mails in case they look like spam. Sounds like a great idea except that if you want POPFile to work correctly, you have to go back to POPFile's email parsing history and verify whether every email was categorized correctly or not. I quite foolishly did that for two years and manually verified each of the 50-100 emails I received every single day! I worked harder than my spam filter! In addition to verifying email in Outlook Express's Inbox & Junk Folder, I had to go into POPFile's history and check for the same. Had I not been using POPFile, I would simply be deleting junk mails from my OE Inbox with one click per email.

The reason I used POPFile was because I had some unfounded faith in it's Bayesian filtering algorithm. Many days, after manually checking 300 emails, I would tell myself that doing this is slowly and steadily going to improve POPFile's spam detection abilities. After two years and over fifty-thousand emails (95% spam), POPFile still erred at least once every 50 emails. 98% accuracy isn't worth doing so much manual work.

So today, finally after 7 years of allegiance to Outlook Express, I gave Mozilla Thunderbird a second shot. Last time when I tried it over a year ago, it made a whole set of folders (Inbox, Outbox etc.) for each POP account! God knows whose idea that was but it was pretty ridiculous. Finally, they consolidated all the POP accounts into one set of Local Folders. The TB Installer managed to import all my OE settings, emails, and contacts. The only thing it didn't import, and I REALLY wish it did, was my extensive set of mail filtering rules. I like my financial emails (from my bank, credit card agencies, mortgage etc.) to go to one "Finance" folder and emails from my friends to filter to the "Friends" folder. Now I have to set it up all again. Another thing TB doesn't do is run my Global Filters automatically. I just don't understand. If these guys can make a browser and email client from scratch, surely they can figure out how to automatically run global filters on all incoming email. Right now, only filters created per POP account are run automatically. TB 1.1 is hopefully going to support auto global filters.

But it's ok, there's a lot of cool things TB has that OE didn't. Especially all these extensions.