When Microsoft made the transition from XP to Vista, Outlook Express also made the switch to Windows Mail. Outlook has long been considered the quintessential email program in most circles while, Windows Mail is more a simple, trimmed-down email program that is similar to the Outlook setup, but without all the bells and whistles. It probably won’t win any awards and won’t be universally accepted as a replacement for Outlook, and it’s not, but for home-use it is a very respectable email program which is easy to set-up and equally easy to use.
Now, as a part of Windows Live Essentials, Windows Live Mail is available as a free download for use in Windows 7. I’ll not rehash the process for downloading Windows Live Mail, that can be found here. Let’s take a brief look at the program and review the set up process.
After the program has been downloaded from Windows Live, you will open it by clicking on the program in the Windows Live Folder from the Programs menu. When the program opens, it should immediately ask you to add your email account to the program. If the message doesn’t show up, you can add an account by clicking on the Add e-mail account link on the right-hand task pane. The next step is entering your email account information.
Microsoft – “With most large e-mail providers, if you know your user name and password, Windows Live Mail can usually detect your account’s settings and set up the new account automatically. However, when adding some accounts, you may need to get some account information from your ISP (Internet service provider. A company that provides access to the Internet.) or network administrator” and enter that information manually by checking the Manually configure server settings for e-mail account.
The most commonly used type of email account is POP3, which is default. If this is not the type of account you have, then chose the appropriate option from the drop-down menu. You’ll need to input the correct information for the Incoming Server and Outgoing Server (this information depends on your ISP) as well as the Login ID. You’ll also need to check whether your email server requires authentication or a secure connection. In my case, as is most, this was not required. Click Next.
Click Finish to finalize the setup.
If everything is entered correctly, you should be taken to your inbox and new emails should be downloaded. I had not used Windows Mail since Vista, so I was pleasantly surprised with the new layout. Similar to Outlook, but even easier to use, the new layout affords the average user everything they would need to manage their emails and a few extras. The interface can be easily customized by clicking the options drop-down and chosing Layout.
Tip: There is a Sign In button on the top right corner that will allow you to log in using your Windows Live ID.
As far as features, Windows Mail includes the basic features that can be found in Outlook, without the extra options that are more applicable to advanced users. There is also a comparable Calendar feature which can be accessed from the navigation pane.
I won’t go through all of the features because most are typical email program features, but a few negatives to point out:
- One option that I use in Outlook that I was unable to find in Windows Mail is the “Leave a copy of messages on the server” option which will literally leave a copy of the message on the original server so the message will still appear in Yahoo! and in Windows Mail. I have looked everywhere for this feature. If any readers knows of this option in Windows Mail, please let me know. (Update: User cbkitt found this option is available in Windows Mail. To activate, right-click on the account and select Properties and it will be under the advanced tab)
- Although I hear that it is possible to set-up an Exchange account in Windows Mail, it is not recommended because not every Outlook option is compatible with Windows Mail.
- There are a few free email accounts that cannot be setup in Windows Mail without using a “tweak”.
Note: Some email accounts such as free Yahoo! Mail would need an alternative method to setup Windows Live Mail using programs like YPOPS! and IzyMail, which I’ll not suggest or go into here.
In conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised with Windows Mail and I am still considering switching to it for my personal email accounts, while leaving Outlook installed for my Exchange account. The new user interface is very easy to use and quick to pick-up for new users and setup was quick and easy as well. If you haven’t yet chosen a mail program for home use or are tired of your existing mail program, give Windows Mail a try, you might be surprised.
Have you used Windows Mail, and if not what program do you currently use?