With the introduction of Windows 7 Microsoft has made a change in policy and they have not included a desktop email program. That is to say there is no Outlook Express, no Windows Mail.
They do offer the option though to install - for free - Windows Live Essentials, which includes Windows Live Mail.
First point: Windows Live Mail has been made to look like a desktop mail program, but it isn't one.
I'll explain the differences and why you need to know these differences!
Second point: you are not obliged to use Windows Live Mail - there are other options.
Ok, concerning the first point.
Windows Mail and Outlook and Outlook Express are the desktop emailprograms Microsoft has offered us so far.
A desktop email program is a program that is installed on your computer and which stores the emails you have received and the ones you have send and concepts you have made ON YOUR COMPUTER.
Windows Live Mail has taken your program 'into the cloud'. That means it is a webbased application.
So the emails you've send, your concepts and your received mail are stored on a Microsoft server.
NOT ON YOUR COMPUTER.
There are advantages to computing 'in the cloud':
- you can access your email where ever you are as long as there is a computer with an internet connection and you remember your password.
- your emails and contacts are stored on servers who generally keep good backup options themselves, so you need not worry about loosing your data if you suffer a computercrash.
But there are also disadvantages and you need to take note of these!
- your personal data is stored out of your reach. Microsoft tries to tell you your data is safe, but a lot of supposedly secure data servers get breached. Just recently there was a topic here on this very forum (will add link when I find it again) that a list of passwords had been made public and thousands of people had to change their password and hope they would not be the victim of identitytheft.
- and how morally just is Microsoft? Will it give up your data to some government, just because they ask for it?
These are the big moral questions, but there are smaller issues too.
- you need to use Hotmail, MSN or Live to be able to use Windows Live Mail. Other email won't work.
(So if your DSL server provides you with a free emailaddress you can't add it to Windows Live Mail like you could to Windows Mail).
- and this last point allows Microsoft to add advertisements into your personal mail whenever they feel like it.
- and for those who like to give their email a nice look: webmail just doesn't cut it. And since it is clear that Incredimail is a bunch of spyware nicely formatted eml files will be a thing of the past.
Ok, now what about your other options?
If you have upgraded / are going to upgrade from Vista you can take your Windows Mail folder with you to Windows 7, paste it in the folder Program Files and voila, you have Windows Mail on 7 :)
Thunderbird might be a good option (haven't tried this one either, since I use Windows Mail myself. I'm about to give his one a try though - will post back on that later. Edit: tried it and it is rather ok, but what I like most is the icon and there it ends LOL. I prefer Windows Mail, but that is just a personal choice.).
There are more out there - just google a bit :)
And what I plan to do?
Well I guess I wíll be using Windows Live Mail.
But not as my primary emailclient.
It has it's advantages and I use msn and hotmail a lot, so this is a logical step to take.
It's good for casual contacts and quick, not-so-important messages.
But next to Windows Live Mail I will be using Windows Mail of a similar app for my personal email.
The more serious stuff like correspondence concerning my place of work, correspondence with friends on a more personal level, where I include personal pictures etc. etc. Or when I want to send someone a really nice email with a specific font used and beautiful stationary etc. etc.
My main point being:
* don't think Windows Live Mail is your only option
* don't be fooled to think Windows Live Mail is "safe"