Sometimes, I find myself wanting to become an Apple fanboy. It would be easier, after all,
within the hectic, ever-changing IT industry to just know I can trust what the
manufacturer tells me. But years of technology consulting have taught me that vendors are evil.

Yes, it’s true. I’m sorry you had to read it here. But that’s the way it is in the real world, where the consulting firm I operate
services hundreds of different commercial businesses and organizations. Vendors
will promise you the world and assure you its mail client (or other product) is
the best. However, your experience may differ.

Even before I began offering IT services to others, family
and friends purchasing new Macs would frequently ask which email client is the best
on OS X. I’ve always been partial to OS X Mail, which should
make Apple developers happy. They’ve earned the accolade. The app is integrated
within the OS, loads quickly, boasts a basic but attractive interface, possesses
clean and well-laid elements, and proves to be easily navigable. Composing messages,
replying to email, and sorting the inbox are painless tasks. Creating rules or
email signatures within Mail doesn’t induce knee-knocking anxiety, the way doing
so might in, say, Microsoft Outlook. Mail is simple and not that
complicated, and the resulting lack of complexity makes it more approachable.

Microsoft’s older Entourage
applications, of course, earned little popularity. Rightfully so. Many Entourage
users complained of database corruption and slow performance. Microsoft wisely replaced
Entourage with Outlook. With
Outlook for Mac 2011’s release, I was hopeful that a new standard was in hand. But
I’ve been disappointed. Outlook takes longer to open (my scientifically
invalid, non-double-blind testing shows Outlook requires 23 seconds to open,
whereas Mail requires only five), regularly encounters synchronization delays, and often simply doesn’t update my Exchange mailbox with changes as accurately
or rapidly as does Mail, at least in my experience.

Ultimately, I use both Mail and Outlook for Mac, if for no
other reason than to stay current with both platforms. I’ve configured the Macs
in my home and business to connect to POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts, too,
and I access mail, contacts, and calendars using Outlook and OS X’s built-in
Mail, Contacts, and Calendar. Apple’s unending efforts to improve Mail, including
message integration within Notification Center, iCloud reliability improvements, and Conversation views are encouraging and continue to make Mail a favorite

However, Mail isn’t perfect.

Outlook, ultimately, gains an edge due to the clean manner
in which it successfully integrates contacts and calendaring. Opening shared
calendars, in particular, is easier within Outlook, in my opinion, than within
Calendar. And Outlook consistently displays HTML email messages, specifically
marketing messages that I’ve requested to receive, properly.

Mail stumbles on that front. Marketing messages that are sent by
large, well-known firms you would recognize (ThinkGeek, Barnes & Noble, and
NPR are a few examples) and may also receive within your inbox, regularly
fail to format properly within Mail. That’s frustrating.

So, it’s a tradeoff. If you want the ease of use and generally
acceptable performance Mail provides, you can save hundreds of dollars per Mac
leveraging Mail instead of Outlook. But if you operate within an enterprise
environment, you may well not have time for workarounds and simply find Outlook
the best fit. But if you or your users also need Word, Excel, and/or PowerPoint,
Outlook’s almost certainly going to be included with the license your
organization purchases, and firing up Outlook becomes a no-brainer. Just be
sure to give Outlook time to open and then sync changes with Exchange before
exiting the program.

Which do you prefer: Mac Mail or Outlook for Mac? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.