I have been using two email programs since about 2003 on the personal computers that I own. I use Outlook 2003 for my personal emails and also for my MSN account through Microsoft. I also have used Outlook Express for my gmail account. I get Google alerts daily which accounts for the bulk of my emails via the gmail account. I also use gmail as a junker account for when I sign up for things on the Internet or do not want to be bothered by spam. For me this has worked well over the years. Your mileage could vary.

With the introduction of Windows Vista, Microsoft dumped Outlook Express and starting using the Windows Live Mail program which was a shell of O.E. I continued to use WLM until I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7. Part of the install process via the Toshiba Upgrade Assistant was removing WLM that was no longer supported in Windows 7. I thought this was strange at the time but was not able to stop the process. 🙁

After Windows 7 was completely installed one of the updates presented was for Windows Live Essentials. I chose to install WLM once again. Surprise! This wasn’t even close to what it was before. This was a plain Jane version, stripped down to the bare bones. I later read somewhere that Microsoft had removed mail and other software for fear of additional regulations coming from the EU.

The latest WLM was unbearable to use, so I decided to try another email program. I went to the Mozilla site and downloaded a free copy of Thunderbird. The software was easy to setup since Mozilla already had the parameters for gmail built right into the program. I imported my O.E. address book that I had previously saved and was up and running in minutes without any problems.

Thunderbird offers an intuitive program which actually resembles the old Outlook Express. The program uses the familiar icons & text menu bar that is simple to understand. I did some minor tweaking selecting from the Tools menu, Account Settings. The menu was similar to what had been originally offered in the old Netscape Communicator menu’s, which I was also familiar with. I selected to have my trash folder emptied when I exited the program and left other settings at their defaults.

The junk mail filter is quirky at first and needs to be trained. The program itself loads quickly and the inclusion of back – forward buttons are handy as well. Thunderbird is a serious contender as a primary email program.

I would highly recommend giving Thunderbird a try. It is easy to use and will have a friendly feel for those who have used the older Outlook Express. It is a great replacement since the new WLM has been stripped down.

Comments welcome.

Download Mozilla Thunderbird from here for Windows.