Software

Five solid replacements for Microsoft Outlook

Introduction

Outlook is easily the most popular business email client. It connects to Exchange, which allows businesses to determine many aspects of how and what their users can manage, use, and control. It also allows the sharing of things like calendars and contacts. But not all businesses employ Exchange. For them, there are plenty of alternatives to Outlook. Even businesses that do have Exchange may use an alternative to connect to the right groupware server. Here are five alternatives worth considering.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo: Zimbra Desktop

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

77 comments
complogx
complogx

It has all the features of a regular email client and plus a unique ability to store emails together with other files in regular windows folders - an unbeatable advantage from my point of view. Plus, recently it added sync with Gmail, Contacts, Calendar AND Docs - this takes care of my Droid being synced and I can work offline with all my Google data, (multiple accounts!) Anyway, for more than 3 years I am totally sold on EverDesk concept and can't believe how much trouble I had without it before. However, if you need Exchange support - you are stuck with Outlook. For all other cases check out EverDesk, folks.

lelandhamilton
lelandhamilton

I use Outlook for more than just keeping track of email, but add reminders to emails that need later followup. It is also my calendar, to do list, and contact list

vudutu
vudutu

What about Microsoft office/outlook and other cloud solutions. It would also be helpful if the author posted some responses to comments.

shel-10
shel-10

If other e-mail (as opposed to Outlook) clients are better, how is it that most of their desktop formats look and feel like Outlook?

francisco.augusto
francisco.augusto

I think the Evolution Mail it is a players to replace outlook too.

odiewoof
odiewoof

I have been a Thunderbird evangelist for a long while (since v1) now. Addressing some of the issues here: One who uses thunderbird long enough will know some of these issues mentioned can be overcome with the following addons: For the Password Login Issue: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/startupmaster/ For the Calendar / Reminder Add on and quick search package: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/lightning/?src=search For those who will die if they cant view their msgs in conversational style: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/gmail-conversation-view/?src=search If u r working with MS EX 2007 (duh): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/provider-for-microsoft-exchang/?src=search https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/exchange-20072010-calendar-/?src=search PS: I am not sure why anyone still want to use Eudora (i was eudora evangelist-convert to Thunderbird). :) On: [q] Thunderbird can not be set up on a single desktop for more then one user like Outlook. In Outlook more than one user can log into a single desktop icon or have several icons for each of several users.[/q] Why would you want to do that? It should be user-account controlled..... microsoft windows, linux, mac os or not. -.-"" [q]4. Thunderbird can not be password protected like Outlook. When you walk away for that meeting anyone can open your Thunderbird file(s).[/q] See above add on. PS: If u do not want anyone to access your PC at all, a simple screensaver should kill any prying eyes. And yes, Thunderbird continues to have certain limitations (i know, u know but i am not sharing here), but it does not come with MS (which has tons of hidden codes, and takes-forever-to-resolve-bugs), and guess what? Thunderbird is already at v14.... and its evolving so fast even I am struggling to keep afloat of its massive patchings and improvement. :)

mtagroupe
mtagroupe

More and more, TR articles are becoming great "text filll-eerr's" on client project storyboards. I for one, am not replying to anymore ridiculous, bandwidth chewing, time wasted articles. Come all young and old, demand the Republic interesting, once again!

nodakman84
nodakman84

Thunderbird is a nice package but has a number of shortfalls. 1. It can not be setup with a true default email account when using several email accounts like in Outlook. What it does for when you use its default option is simply make the account you choose as default just the top on in it list of several email accounts. In Outlook if you declare an account default then all messages originating in a session will come under that account, you must deliberately select a different account if you don't want the default as the originator. In Thunderbird if you are using several accounts then which ever account you currently in becomes the originator can be embarrassing or costly if you have personal and business email accounts in the Thunderbird setup. 2. Thunderbird has a very old, known, un-addressed bug with its fonts. You create or respond a email say using 12 pitch Arial suddenly it changes to 10 pitch this seem to happen with all fonts! You can highlight and change the 10 pitch font back 12 pitch before sending but the receiver will often receive the mixed 12 and 10 pitch fonts. Not professional! 3. Thunderbird can not be set up on a single desktop for more then one user like Outlook. In Outlook more than one user can log into a single desktop icon or have several icons for each of several users. 4. Thunderbird can not be password protected like Outlook. When you walk away for that meeting anyone can open your Thunderbird file(s). Thunderbird offers many handy Add-ons to enhance its performance, many for little or nothing. I've used Thunderbird for years and will continue doing so realizing its limitations.

emcquaig
emcquaig

...when the only way any of these "Replacements" can interface with Exchange is through IMAP? A simple re-wording of the title will suffice. Otherwise: Article FAIL.

rmaillet56
rmaillet56

You left out the best replacement Synovel Spicebird. By far the best replacement for outlook. Since we are a Unix house and have as little to do with windows applications as possible my first response to everyone that has posted a remark is try replacing your windows servers with either Unix or Linux and the products you can use with those OS cost wise beat Windows hands down, Security wise it beat windows hands down, efficiency beat windows hands down... We use SpiceBird and Thunderbird. After being in the Internet business since 1994 I've yet find a reason to switch anything in our business to Windows or any of the MS applications.

dtwaldrep
dtwaldrep

Disappointed that IBM Lotus Notes/Domino was not featured. It is 2nd in market share to MS in business email/messaging and not as far behind as one might think. If IBM knew how to market it better, Notes would be neck and neck with MS like they used to be. Notes/Domino is more stable and secure than MS, and with IBM Connections and the social business integration, it's all very impressive. Corporate clients should consider it.

crispete
crispete

Outlook has notes, tasks, calendar, re-ocurring meetings. May one of these five had some of these. None had all. If they do, the presentation sure neglected them! Poorest sales pitch I have seen for quite some time.

JJJakus
JJJakus

GroupWise 2012 does just about everything for a lot less. Runs on Windows and Linux as a hosted server and Windows, Linux and Mac as a client. Includes a lot of extras for less. Also consider Google Services as a viable replacement. These will give your company the leverage to move away from high licensing costs of MS Office and move to OpenOffice, LibreOffice and/or GoodDocs. Moving to ODF 1.2 as a data format will liberate the world from the high priced MS lock-ins. Cheers

firstaborean
firstaborean

If someone sends a graphical attachment, using Outlook, the attachment is in the form of a (nonstandard) .dat file, readable only with Outlook. Thus, using Thunderbird, one has a problem, sometimes, with E-mail sent from an Outlook user. Thunderbird, itself, has an oddity: When originating an E-mail, if one chooses "Write," a new E-mail item is launched, but without easy access to the Address Book. If one accesses the Address Book first, then a click on the E-mail address launches a new E-mail. This is counter-intuitive, but Mozilla has said nothing about adding access to the Address Book from the "to," "cc" and "bcc" fields. It would be nice if Mozilla and especially Microsoft were more attuned to standardization.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

...not one of these is a solid replacement for Outlook. Thunderbird can do IMAP protocol, not quite good enough in my opinion to be a Solid replacment for someone on a 2010 exchange server and using Outlook 2010.

jfoury
jfoury

With Davmail you can connect to Exchange servers, for mail and calendar (using Lightning extension)

pjmckay
pjmckay

We start off with quote "one of the more stable" and then doesn't improve. I like Outlook and use it with exchange at work, and pop at home. 1 place for my mail accounts suits me fine. I'd be looking for more reasons to swap than what appears to be 'I dont like microsoft and some of this junk nearly works without much trouble, most of the time'. If I was reporting on a prized Cadillac I'd put up some serious cars to sway my argument. I wouldn't pitch in with a Datsun sunny and say it does much the same job, and doesn't break down as much as it might. Come on... give us an equivalent or forget ir.

cmcfarling
cmcfarling

I'm sure admins everywhere are rushing to replace Outlook with Zimbra after reading this article. I know I can't wait to start using something with an interface that takes getting used to and won't connect to Exchange server with ease. It sounds like a lot of fun trying to get it to work though. Not. If these are solid replacements for Outlook then I think MS is feeling pretty comfortable.

ManoaHI
ManoaHI

My mother uses Outlook and there is no Exchange server. Her ISP had foisted Outlook Express on her, and didn't support any other mail reader (she would have been on her own if she chose something else). Now that Outlook Express is gone, I got her Office with Outlook. She has two e-mail services that she connects to, one is POP 3 and the other is IMAP. No Exchange.

debolton
debolton

I must have missed something. Where are the rest? or were we supposed to think this was so great that we wouldn't continue on to see the "other" replacements?

JustCallMeBC
JustCallMeBC

It has nothing to do with the future. If you are a recent college graduate, Outlook is just some old software you only know about because your low-tech parents use it at their less than cutting edge places of work. Microsoft's proprietary Exchange protocols and all the recent IP threats/battles likely prohibit a complete drop-in replacement, but with end-arounds like Google Apps and Apple's iCloud surging, Outlook and desktop clients in general are becoming less and less relevant by the day. Outlook was always the most high strung of all the email clients and it was only Microsoft's underhanded hegemony that kept it around, so good, long overdue riddance to it.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

I've tried most of these except claws and I wouldn't recommend any of them. Most are useless and cannot compete with Outlook. I keep coming back to Outlook because most of these don't have any useful features except to read email.

rgeiken
rgeiken

I am a home user of Thunderbird, and except for the hiccups they have had lately due to all their updates, it has been solid for me, and I haven't even looked at any other program. I use Calender and have it show up on the right of my mail page so I can see what is going on in the next 7 days. I am up to revision 12.0.1 on the beta update channel, and hopefully this beta channel will produce a better product. I also switch Themes from time to time, and like that feature. A business user may have different constraints, and Outlook is probably a better program for them. Also if you are a home user, and don't have MS Office installed, you cannot use Outlook since it isn't included and you have to have the full version of MS Office installed to have that available. It is not on the Home and Student Version. Windows Live Mail is the only thing available from Microsoft on Windows 7. This was not noted in Story, but should have been. That is why a lot of people use these other e-mail programs.

SonicVision
SonicVision

Evolution is a better alternative to outlook and thunderbird. you should check it out.

djlexr
djlexr

Is the author lying to the reader or to himself? Does TechRepublic not have quality control?

terry.sanderson
terry.sanderson

Why would anybody care? More Linux and Open Source propaganda attempting to invade the Windows environment. Stay with Linux and get out of the Windows arena, Jack; you're not wanted in our sandbox.

blitzkrieg766
blitzkrieg766

Is this article a joke? a mail client without exchange server compatibility doesn't come within forty miles of replacing outlook. please consider changing the article's title to represent its contents a bit more accurately.

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

How cliche, while at the same time being COMPLETELY ineffective. Microsoft Outlook is an Office POWERHOUSE. The fact that it is an Exchange client is very significant and only scratches the surface. Compared to this list of wannabees, Outlook is a SUPERHERO.

DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com
DGermantr@Real-World-Systems.com

Yes outlook is well integrated to the business Exchange server. And when Micro$oft changes the look or features of outlook, you WILL like it! If you aren't an Exchange shop you should try other options. If you haven't tried another email client you'll never know.

dshiver
dshiver

In a corporate environment, the main use for Outlook is for its use with an Exchange server. So the only clients that would be of any use in the corporate world for most of us would be clients that intergrate with Exchange. Creating an article that talks about replacing Outlook and then presenting clients that won't work with Outlook just wasted everyone's time.

cramthat
cramthat

"Jack's primary focus is on the Linux operating system" so great job reviewing a Windows product and comparing with Linux portable products. But otherwise, really not a useful effort.

osgcurt
osgcurt

But I see the format is very "Outlook". Like getting the half flat low budget cola drink, these apps follow but don't meet up with the gold standard. Outlook has now been the focus of multi application mashups. Sure, "IF a user only needs" is the mantra. I've said it myself, but that does not stay for long. And please guys, it's time to loose the "Outlook is only to read Exchange" mantra. Really Old. How many folks have multiple email accounts coming into their Outlook profiles. This is just another article written when there is nothing to write about.

pejobi
pejobi

How about identifying the reasons you would want to replace Outlook? Or better yet, preface the article with a subtitle that states, "For people using Outlook not connected to an Exchange server". This article could have just as easily been titled, "5 Solid Replacements for ANY mail client that May or May Not connect to your current mail server".

sauerbach
sauerbach

Calendar. Calendar. Do these so-called replacements include calendars? Do the calendars sync with my Droid?

rocky.middleton
rocky.middleton

This article is irrelevant for corporate users with Exchange. First of all why would you need to replace Outlook if you are an exchange user. Also, many home users use Microsoft Office for word processing, spreadsheets, MS Project, etc. and Outlook is included in Office. For home users without MS Office then Thunderbird is decent client although it does not handle contacts and calendering nearly as well.

cito
cito

i would love to get away from outlook/microsoft... but these things don't even come within 10 percent of what outlook, active sync, exchange do. outlook is a task manager, single and group calendar, address book, company address book, notebook, journal, project manager, filing system... ... oh yeah, its an email client too...get a grip,

jonc2011
jonc2011

Every so often I try another POP3 email client, like Eudora 8, Thunderbird, Eudora OSE, Penelope and Outlook, and always come back to Eudora 7, which does almost everything that an individual user could want from an emailer, except read some fonts and link with Office dictionaries. Some say it works ok with Exchange (eg, http://www.liv.ac.uk/csd/email/other/eudoraexchange.htm). What a pity Qualcomm stopped development. It would leave all the others in the shade by now. Hope it will still work ok on Windows 8.

jwhite
jwhite

All these "replacements" are for those who shouldn't ever have been using Outlook in the first place because they don't have/need Exchange. This "article", being about the 100th straw that broke the camel's back, has caused me to officially UNSUBSCRIBE to this junk mail known as TechRepublic!

AMS-Ray
AMS-Ray

I know that there are companies larger than mine that feel that they have to have Exchange and Outlook. Do yourself a favor and seriously consider Google Apps. After switching to Google Business Apps and Gmail two years ago, We never have to worry about PST files any more. We never have to worry about syncing any more. There is a reason that so many companies are institutions are trying Google Apps.

grafixmaster
grafixmaster

If it can't connect to Exchange, it isn't an outlook replacement.

cyn10559
cyn10559

GroupWise connects to exchange seamlessly and is a terrific option to the cost of installing Outlook. Really Jack?

tomatsalvair
tomatsalvair

How about getting rid of thick client options and going to web-based, and embracing the iPhone/Android world, along with tablets? There's no need to have Outlook at all, along with the messy Microsoft licensing options you have to deal with.

ff95
ff95

> Pegasus Mail claims that it will protect you from even the worst HTML-borne viruses and exploits. That is a bold claim, but one it can back up. > Pegasus Mail can't connect to Exchange. But if you don't use Exchange and you want an email client that will help prevent infection from HTML-mail sources, Pegasus Mail might well be the solution.

neil.wright
neil.wright

Ditto ChipV, I was curious as to how one could credibly write a piece like this; but simply, there is no credibility. Must be a slow day for Yapple rumours and new lawsuites eh?.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Because that's what people say they want...

emcquaig
emcquaig

...my customers...rephrase...ALL of my customers who have to use Notes, HATE Notes. To be fair, I have never used or deployed Notes. But if my customers' reactions are any indicator: stability be damned, I'm not condemning my users to hell.

333239
333239

Thunderbird has a calendar add-in called 'Lightning'. It's good and will sync with most online calendars better than Outlook.

techrepublic
techrepublic

If you tend to pass confidential information via corporate email, I would be leary of 'the cloud'. History has demonstrated that big corporations can't always be counted on to keep our data secure. If the systems that contain data like our credit card info can't be kept safe, it is kind of foolish to presume that the servers storing our email communications will be any better off. Large providers of services tend to become targets for glory seekers or worse. The future of Internet security is sure to be a rocky road indeed.

thefinisher
thefinisher

I suppose you need to work offline every now and again I do not have a internet access and need access old mail really old mail :). Web base or cloud is not always the solution for every thing that why we still clients

ricardoc
ricardoc

You know my story regarding Mail Clients is pretty much like everyone's else. I was using Outlook at work with no Exchange (we din't have the budget for it) and it run well most of the time, but the PST format is a pain for: - When it grows over 2GB - When you need to do backups - This is the biggest pain; Outlook locks the file and all the backups suites I tested with the resources I had, will treat any changes to a PST as if it was a completely new file. This means no differential backups for PST files. - Since most users will use MS Word as their message editor/composer the resource utilization on the system will go up and if Word locks, Outlook locks - Restoring a user or moving to a new PC involved moving lots of PST files (usually one per project for each user) Either way I tried Thunderbird; it was good except for the fact that I wanted to sync both calendar and contacts but after I made the calendar to sync it broke after the plug-in for the contact was installed (it had a known bug). I though the same as you; "what if I need to work offline?" So I also tried Zimbra ; not so good even though I made it sync (calendar and contacts with Gmail). At the end I went with just Chrome and Google Apps fearing that a moment will come and I will regret getting rid of the desktop client. Well after eight months there wasn't a single time I needed to read an email and I had not had a way to do so; whether with my laptop or phone I can do so and everything syncs. This is not only my experience; it is the experience of 60 plus more users in my company since I convinced them to migrate to Google Apps and ditch Outlook. Now I have admin Nirnava regarding email, no stinking PST files to deal with. Negative points regarding the new system are coming only from two very advanced users of Outlook (which by the way they continue to use, but PST are no longer an issue since everything is saved in Google servers); those users miss a few features from Outlook not currently present in Google Apps. For the rest I'm very happy I moved away from the desktop client model. Just my two cents...