Is Mail ancient history?


  • Vivaldi Team

    There are those that say that we no longer need mail. That more and more people only use social networks and messaging services. That only dinosaurs use mail, etc. To me it is a question of standards and convenience. The mail client follows standards and protocols that allows me to switch software clients and upgrade to something better, while potentially keeping the same service. The mail clients also allow me to find information and mail threads at great speeds. This is one place where M2, the built in Opera mail client, excels. So clearly I am a very active mail user. But am I the only one? Tell me, are you a mail user?



  • I normally only use a desktop email client - sorry, Thunderbird not M2 :( - because I want instant offline access to my emails. Also, as you stated it gives me the option to switch mail clients if I want to.

    I understand why people using several devices choose to use webmail. I use Mailwasher to preview new emails on whatever computer I happen to be using but only download them to my main computer with Thunderbird.



  • I recall people saying AIM would replace mail … what, 15-20 years ago? Is AIM - or the parent service, AOL - still around?

    As a replacement for "snail mail", e-mail is not. There is really no such thing as verified sender, registered (mail that has to be signed for) ... or any form of privacy. And there are all kinds of laws against tampering with regular mail, mail fraud, etc. ... so I'm not saying e-mail can't be improved. But texting/Twitter/instant messaging really can't replace mail (they don't do the same thing).



  • Mail replacements aren't. There is nothing today that can replace mail for what mail is used for. At the same time mail has a long list of shortcomings that make mail less attractive to use. I don't think I am alone in using mail a lot less now than I did a decade ago.

    Few if any of these shortcomings are fundamental, they can be fixed, either by better mail clients, by improving the existing mail protocols, or devising mail-compatible protocols.

    Much lies in the client, and it is clear, at least to me, that the existing clients do mail a disservice. I abandoned M2 many years ago, after it was obvious that Opera abandoned M2 first. I have found Thunderbird hard to love, with the extra problems a dedicated mail client causes.

    Mail is in the domain of IETF, a conservative (if on a good day pragmatic) standards organisations. They standardise some of the things that have been shown to work, unlike web standards which commonly have been made before anyone has tried to implement said standards, and where from time to time browser makers have gathered together to solve some pressing problems. Put another way improving mail standards is going to be very slow going.

    And the solutions aren't always all that great. To Terryphi's problem of accessing the mail store with multiple devices there has for the longest time been a solution, IMAP, but IMAP is complex and error-prone. Web browsers have bug, but if a browser fails to do its job a web page won't display right, or in the worst case a trojan will be installed. If an IMAP client spectacularly fails to do its job, it can permanently delete the IMAP mail store for all mail clients.



  • POP3 for personal things and persons I know personally.
    Webmail for 'virtual' things & virtual friends :P



  • @jon:

    So clearly I am a very active mail user. But am I the only one? Tell me, are you a mail user?

    State of the web: >5 billion active e-mail accounts.

    According to the stats taken from high traffic websites that use our companies commercial CMS, >80 of all mail is read with dedicated mail clients.

    That is enough for me.

    On a private level: I never ceased to use mail, it is still one of the fastest and most convenient ways to transport a message from A to B.

    @sgunhouse:

    There is really no such thing as verified sender, registered (mail that has to be signed for) … or any form of privacy.

    Verified is possible - since the signature act in our country you can send a legally binding mail and you sign/encrypt it with the officially verified key from the signature chip embedded in the passport (some extra hardware needed)
    Additionally you can use it instead of snail mail because if the recipient has no mail account, the mail will be printed and delivered.

    Anyway: For really private stuff I would still prefer using a real letter written by myself. It is quite hard to read or manipulate that if it is sealed correctly and it might be even harder to forge my hand written signature …



  • Most of my communication is done through texting and social services. Yes, I still use email but only webmail (Outlook primarily). I don't need instant access to email. If communicating with me requires instant access, it's done through text messaging. Due to the fact that much of our computing is now done with devices (tablets, smart phones) we have opted for webmail accounts. Anything that is vital to us is downloaded and stored on external hard drives via our Thinkpads. I don't believe either one of us has used a POP email account now in several years.



  • I still use e-mail. I prefer it.

    The only time I use social network messaging is when people force me to. For example, people I play hockey with always want me to contact them through Facebook. But then a lot of times they just text me on the phone anyway. Organizing hockey is probably the only reason I even use Facebook anymore.

    To me texting is just a worse form of e-mail. Typing on a phone is worse than typing on a full keyboard. The cost of of texting has always been a scam (something like $1000 a MB if you do the math). Sure, a lot of plans come with unlimited texting, but then you're looking at a pretty large monthly bill. The only real benefit it has is that you can do it on a mobile device. But now that smart phones can handle e-mail, what is the point of texting?

    I used to always just use webmail (hotmail). I never bothered with a e-mail client until I discovered Opera had one built into the browser. To me that's a big benefit.

    I think a big reason that a lot of people don't communicate through e-mail is that 15 years ago not everyone had a computer with internet access. People didn't check their e-mail often. People let their accounts expire. So if you want to e-mail someone who you haven't spoken to in a long time you never knew if you were using their current e-mail address. In the beginning it was fairly unreliable.

    And I think IMAP helps a lot. The main reason I stuck with hotmail for so long is because it worked with MSN to give me a pop-up in my taskbar when I received a new e-mail. With my @myopera account I basically had the same thing.



  • IMAP with the host server pushing notifications to my mobile has increased the usefulness and immediacy of e-mail for me, so I still find e-mail to be very relevant. PUSH keeps data traffic down while giving immediate notification of new messages.

    If I need to do something heavy in e-mail, I get to a regular computer with a client like Thunderbird or use webmail.

    Encryption is a great thing for e-mail, but it's hard to get other people to play that game with you.



  • @sgunhouse:

    I recall people saying AIM would replace mail … what, 15-20 years ago? Is AIM - or the parent service, AOL - still around?

    Yes, indeed! I still have my original AIM and ICQ accounts from the 90's. Mostly now I use Jabber (XMPP) for IM'ing. MyOpera has an XMPP server running, though I wouldn't use it now with just weeks to go. There are plenty of other places to get an XMPP account for those instant messages.



  • From my perspective, texting is something informal that I do only for brief messages or for which I want a faster or very brief response, much like making a quick phone call. Texting doesn't lend itself readily to more formal or to longer communication of information, attachments, etc., which instead fall better into the eMail realm. Most of my messages are sent and arrive via eMail, in large part because it is a slower-paced form of communications (much like writing postal mail, but delivered quicker and cheaper) which allows more thought and clarity than the hyper-abbreviated snap-statements usually intrinsic to texting or even brief voice messaging. To paraphrase a famous line: eMail is an elegant tool, for a more civilized age.

    I've used POP3 for many years, most of those under various PocoMail versions which I first adopted back in the days of concern over HTML eMail exploits (since Poco has its own HTML engine that blocks the auto-executing code that was so problematic in earlier days before most other eMail browsers took preventive measures). Likewise, Poco's built-in foldering and filtering were outstanding, as were its configurability and polish… it was (and is) to eMail what Old Opera was (and is) to web browsing. Sadly Poco is no longer being developed, just as Old Opera is now essentially abandoned, though both are still quite useful.



  • There will always be a place for an email client but I think the world is moving away from that means of communicating and I'm moving with it. Outlook.com is a phenomenal webmail program that is evolving faster than other comparable programs. I love the new features (Sweep, drag and drop, integration with Skydrive/Calendar/People) and the quick access I have via my phone, iPad and Surface. I think you'll find, particularly among the younger set, that the older email style is more or less no longer in the game. We use an email client at our place of business but at home, both my wife and I have abandoned it.



  • Mail standards are important, but have not evolved enough the last ten years. We need mail that is encrypted and signed by default, but it was only ever common to corporate users of Lotus Notes - which hardly anybody use any more.

    Improved mail is important, but it is difficult to get to where we need to be because it takes cooperation between the client and the server, and it is difficult to improve mail security without breaking too much backward compatibility.



  • @sgunhouse:


    As a replacement for "snail mail", e-mail is not. There is really no such thing as verified sender, registered (mail that has to be signed for) ... or any form of privacy. ...

    We had e-mail which offered all that and more. It was called X.400. It failed because most users preferred "free" and most developers preferred easy.



  • Mail is always a part of the Internet. Webmail is just another web service. I don't want Internet to be reduced to only Web.
    I love mail clients, faster, more convenient, customizable and standard than any webmail. For a long time i technically supported and discretely promoted the Foxmail chinese mail client with French users, then choose (2008) the smart and reliable integration of many clients in Opera Desktop Internet Suite. M2 is a great piece of software and i know a french guy at Opera Software worked to make it better. Bravo.

    I only use webmails when i can't do a better job… and only to read/write texts, only words, without html "bling-bling" part !



  • @ra-mon:

    Mail is always a part of the Internet. Webmail is just another web service. I don't want Internet to be reduced to only Web.
    I love mail clients, faster, more convenient, customizable and standard than any webmail.

    Standard email clients may be many things but they are not faster and more convenient. Nothing could be faster or more convenient than webmail. I'm not trying to promote it by any means, since I fully agree that there will always be a place for it (at least in the foreseeable future) but we need to keep the discussion real. Even Mozilla more or less abandoned it, turning it over to their community for development. MS places far more emphasis on Outlook.com than Windows Live Mail (and yes, Outlook itself is still available via the Office suite but in truth, that has more business applications than most consumers need or want). I access my mail all day with my smart phone and my tablet: that's convenience.

    Check out this article (one of many… search for more):

    http://www.tested.com/tech/494-web-mail-vs-desktop-mail-client-what-do-you-use/



  • @bv:

    … We need mail that is encrypted and signed by default…

    +1. That's one of my fondest dreams… eMail protocols and software with built-in robust encryption and signing, able to automatically apply it and decode from it on a more-or-less ordinary basis. In this age of perpetual snooping, I'd venture to guess the market for that would be real, vast, and immediate...



  • @bv:

    We need mail that is encrypted and signed by default

    And you can bet that the moment you lock down your email to that degree, you're going to guarantee that you'll become a target for the NSA and other like-minded government agencies. If you take the trouble to try and hide your messages, you've simply placed a target on your back. No thanks. nothing I do via email needs that level of privacy. I'm not a country nor a corporation needing that level of protection. If I need my communications to be that private, I will definitely take means other than the internet.



  • @Blackbird:

    @bv:

    … We need mail that is encrypted and signed by default…

    +1. That's one of my fondest dreams… eMail protocols and software with built-in robust encryption and signing, able to automatically apply it and decode from it on a more-or-less ordinary basis. In this age of perpetual snooping, I'd venture to guess the market for that would be real, vast, and immediate...

    There are a number of projects working on providing this. Here is one called Virtru I read about today. This article in The Register subjects the beta to critical review.



  • @JamesD:

    @ra-mon:

    Mail is always a part of the Internet. Webmail is just another web service. I don't want Internet to be reduced to only Web.
    I love mail clients, faster, more convenient, customizable and standard than any webmail.

    Standard email clients may be many things but they are not faster and more convenient. Nothing could be faster or more convenient than webmail.

    I own multiple email accounts for different purpose (hobby, personal, job, web buying…). Using an email client to manage all of them in one place is a MUST... A webmail or multiple webmail cannot offer the same service, performance, a better message searching/sorting across accounts. When i have to switch between all webmail for all different accounts it's for me a nightmare and a big loss of time :evil:

    Even Mozilla more or less abandoned it, turning it over to their community for development.

    It's mainly because email or newsgroups client don't make so much money income than web browsers !
    If Google pay Mozilla for making an email software compatible with Google business, they'll invest in it for sure :D
    Same thing for Opera Mail now… Opera Software don't want to loose money for a such not bankable product...

    I access my mail all day with my smart phone and my tablet: that's convenience.

    I use IMAP/SMTP agent to manage all my email accountS with my phone/tablet too !


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