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October 17, 2006

Linux, Thunderbird, and Open Source are the way to go

by @ 7:02 am. Filed under General Linux

M$ Outlook has to be one of the biggest scams in history.

At work, we’re sending out a mass email to all our clients. As I’m testing the system, I notice several things. First off, Thunderbird renders everything I throw at it completely correctly. I send it stuff from other email clients in an array of formats, and it renders everything exactly as it should. The HTML looks just like it is supposed to. When I view the plain-text version of the message, it actually displays to me the veritable text/plain part of the email message. No problems there. Standards are wonderful when people comply to them.

Everything all set up correctly, I shoot some emails from my script over to a user running Outlook. I could scarcely believe my eyes. When we told Outlook to render the HTML version of the email, it looked fine. When we told it to render out the plain-text version, IT RENDERED THE HTML VERSION AS TEXT and completely disregarded the text/plain part of the email that was included. Boy, let’s invent our own set of standards and then force the entire world to use them. And let’s make them just different enough from the *REAL* standards that, in order to use the technology, everyone has to conform to the way *WE* do things. Rock on. Having a monopoly must really rock.

Also, in Thunderbird, to view an email message as plain-text, from the main Thunderbird window, you select VIEW, then MESSAGE BODY AS, then PLAIN TEXT. And then Thunderbird actually shows the text/plain part of the message. Slick and easy, and, of course standards-compliant.

In Outlook, you have to double-click the message to open it in a new window. Then, you have to click on the EDIT menu, and select EDIT MESSAGE. Then, you have to go over to the FORMAT menu, and select HTML. Then Outlook pops up a window saying, “If you do this, the Universe will implode and all your formatting will completely evaporate.” To which, you confusingly have to select YES. Only then will it show your message as text, and not even the real plain-text version of the email. It’s the HTML in the email rendered as plain-text.

Not to mention that you cannot save out an email from Outlook in the plain-text .eml format that the entire rest of the Universe uses. You save it out as a *BINARY* .msg format which, of course, is totally useless anywhere except in Outlook, thus completely nullifying the point of even saving out messages.

Oh, yeah, and there’s the fact that you cannot even export the address book in any format that is compatible with its Outlook Express little brother (which I’ve actually had decent experience with, once the security is tightened down; of course, that was before I started using Linux). You have to go through 23 third-party applications, converting it between CSV, LDAP, AVI, JPG, and ICO formats before you can even get it into Outlook Express. Then, you have to spend half a millenium fixing all of the fields that were imported wrong.

It surely must be nice to take a dump on a blank CD-ROM and call it usable software.

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