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Has E-Mail Hit A Wall?

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Has E-Mail Hit A Wall?
2. Today's Top Story
    - Google Debuts Four New Search Products And Promises Openness
    Related Story:
    - Google CEO Sees Blue Skies Of 'Limitless Growth'
3. Breaking News
    - Homeland Security ID Effort Stalls: Analyst
    - Emergency Responders Can't Communicate, DHS Warns
    - Rootkit-Spreading Spyware Shop Shuts Down
    - Microsoft To Provide More Patches For Third-Party Apps
    - ICANN Turns Down .XXX, But Debate Continues
    - ITC To Investigate Toshiba In Lexar Patent Tiff
    - Exploit Out For Exchange Bug
    - AOL Connects VoIP Service To AIM
    - System Builders Explore Ways To Boost Opteron Horsepower In Blades
    - Major Push Coming Against Software Pirates On Auction Sites
4. Grab Bag
    - At Expo, Games Are Played And Opinions Aired (Washington Post)
    - Putting The Wire Back Into Networking (New York Times - reg. required)
    - The Stamp-Sized Story Of Computers (BusinessWeek)
5. In Depth
    - Beyond Outlook: Five Alternative E-Mail Apps
    - Which PDA To Buy?
    - Review: YX200 Dual-Band Car Cell Extender
    - Microsoft Powers Gas Pump Of The Future
    - For Nintendo, MEMS The Word
    - Poll: Men Make Gaming Friends, Women Stay Solo
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Qwest To The NSA: Put Up Or Shut Up
7. White Papers
    - 20 Critical Questions To Ask A Microsoft Exchange Service Provider
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimension." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


1. Editor's Note: Has E-Mail Hit A Wall?

Back in the day, there was a popular fantasy television series called Buffy the Vampire Slayer that garnered something of a following. One of the main characters on that series had an evil twin who, when things got a bit slow, would say in a sulky voice, "Bored now." That's sort of how I feel when I look at some of the E-mail packages that are trying to compete with that 50-ton gorilla that lives out in Redmond, Seattle.

Now let me first say I love communicating via E-mail. I find it fantastic that you can send somebody a message nearly instantaneously, get an answer nearly as quickly (as quickly as the party in question feels like answering), and have a record of the entire correspondence for as long as you need it. (Assuming, of course, that your hard drive was backed up when your system crashed. But that's the subject of another blog post.) For someone who grew up in a time when written communications demanded a postage stamp and several days of waiting, E-mail is up there next to sliced bread and shoelaces.

However, it must be admitted that, as far as E-mail is concerned, we're in something of a rut. Every package out there has basically the same setup: a list of folders, a list of the messages in each folder, and a preview pane so that you can view a message without actually opening it. And then there are those useful features such as the ability to receive E-mail from several accounts, the ability to search your messages, the ability to organize your folders, etc., etc. Good stuff. Very useful. But with the onslaught of spam and the overwhelming amount of E-mail that most of us now get with our morning latte, new ideas are badly needed.

This is reflected in the reaction of those of us who use the apps. Back in February 2006, we published a review roundup of the most popular Web browsers, in which four writers defended their favorites against all comers. And boy, did they ever--the reviews were filled with statements like: "The techno-elite may prefer to browse the Web in a package that doesn't include the Microsoft brand name, but they're the exception." And, "Let's cut to the chase: Firefox lets you 'stick it to the Man.' And you know who that is, right?"

On the other hand, the writers in our latest review roundup, "Beyond Outlook: Five Alternative E-Mail Apps," offer cogent, reasoned, and detailed motives for why they chose their particular E-mail packages. And there are very good reasons, including extensions and themes (Thunderbird), scripting languages (PocoMail), personalities (Eudora), advanced sorting (Pegasus Mail), and automation (The Bat!). But there's nothing there that would cause the sort of loyalty that a favorite browser generates.

And there won't be, until the next generation of really groundbreaking communications products hits the market. One reason Firefox succeeded was because it took a great existing idea like tabs and incorporated it into an innovative design—along with a philosophy that told its users, "We'll give you the basics. You build it the way you want." Google is trying to do the same with products like Google Calendar and Google Gadgets, both of which take new (but existing) technologies and use them in new and highly inventive ways.

Somewhere there's an individual or a company that can look at the process of sending and receiving E-mail and come up with a new way of dealing with written communications that will blow us all away. Meanwhile, if we want to deal with somebody other than Microsoft, there are some solid and, yes, interesting products out there. And who knows—the next version of one of these could introduce a feature that will make all the difference.

What do you think? Are you happy with your current E-mail app, or are you looking for something more? Let me know by commenting at my blog post.

Barbara Krasnoff
bkrasnoff@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Google Debuts Four New Search Products And Promises Openness
The new products include Gadgets, a direct competitor to Apple's widgets.

Related Story:
Google CEO Sees Blue Skies Of 'Limitless Growth'
Eric Schmidt says there's room in the search market for Microsoft, Yahoo, and others as competition causes ad prices to rise.


3. Breaking News

Homeland Security ID Effort Stalls: Analyst
A working group to help figure out a common ID standard for federal employees has been disbanded. Among the reasons, an Input analyst says, are lack of executive-level support and no guidance from key agencies.

Emergency Responders Can't Communicate, DHS Warns
Despite a lot of money being thrown at the problem, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said this week that the goal of emergency-system interoperability across the nation is still a goal, not a reality.

Rootkit-Spreading Spyware Shop Shuts Down
ContextPlus, which spread spyware and adware, including software that hijacked searches and programs that leveled systems with pop-up ads, has posted a message on its Web site saying it's out of the business.

Microsoft To Provide More Patches For Third-Party Apps
Some observers wonder if Microsoft's patch of Adobe Flash Player augers the company's permanent move to be more accountable for the security of bundled, partnered products in Windows.

ICANN Turns Down .XXX, But Debate Continues
The group's directors voted 9 to 5 to reject the proposal for a dedicated "adult-only" content domain, as parties on both sides continue to make their case.

ITC To Investigate Toshiba In Lexar Patent Tiff
Products being investigated by the International Trade Commission include Toshiba's flash chips and flash cards.

Exploit Out For Exchange Bug
Symantec isn't sure if the Immunity exploit against the Exchange calendar targets the same vulnerability that Microsoft already patched, or if it's an attack against a new zero-day bug.

AOL Connects VoIP Service To AIM
One version of AIM Phoneline, due this month, is an ad-supported free service for making PC-to-PC calls. For-fee options will also be available for calls to landlines.

System Builders Explore Ways To Boost Opteron Horsepower In Blades
Floating-point technology for high-performance computing is one option being explored. An AMD spokeswoman said the company expects to show off some of the technology at a briefing scheduled for June 1.

Major Push Coming Against Software Pirates On Auction Sites
The Software and Information Industry Association is starting a program to monitor auction sites, identify individuals and groups selling pirated software, and sue suspected pirates on behalf of its members.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In this edition:

John Soat With 'Technology: Confidential'
Closing in on the virus writers' Hall of Fame, a Hollywood video game store owner pleads guilty to modifying and selling Xbox game consoles loaded with pirated video games, and a German computer technician is sentenced for cannibalism.

Cynthia Ramsaran With 'Sunday In The Park With Wi-Fi'
Cynthia interviews Public Internet Project founder Marcos Lara, who launched free Wi-Fi in Bryant Park, New York City, in 2001.

Laurie Sullivan With 'The Real Indiana Jones'
Laurie reports from the E3 expo that Lucas Arts will use 3D character animation software from Natural Motion for video game animation.


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----
China-U.S. Security—FREE REPORT DOWNLOAD
Compare the security practices and investment plans of 700 Chinese sites against the strategies and experiences of 2,540 U.S. companies in InformationWeek's research report, "China-U.S. Information Security 2005."

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4. Grab Bag: News You Need From Around The Web

At Expo, Games Are Played And Opinions Aired (Washington Post)
Apparently, the fun at the Electronic Entertainment Expo isn't playing the games, but listening to company executives put down their rivals.

Putting The Wire Back Into Networking (New York Times - reg. required)
Remember when they said you'd be able to network your home through the electrical system? Well, they haven't given up yet.

The Stamp-Sized Story Of Computers (BusinessWeek)
A collector tells the story of computing through his 5,000-stamp collection.


5. In Depth: Reviews And Personal Tech

Beyond Outlook: Five Alternative E-Mail Apps
If you're the type of person who wants to be able to choose an E-mail package that's not Microsoft, take heart. There are a number of other options out there.

Which PDA To Buy?
What David DeJean needed was a new PDA. What he had was a lot of questions, so he asked for help from his readers.

Review: YX200 Dual-Band Car Cell Extender
Boost your cell phone signal while driving with this extender designed for automobiles.

Microsoft Powers Gas Pump Of The Future
Drivers will be able to fuel up, download MP3 files, buy a cup of coffee, and get coupons, all from the same place.

For Nintendo, MEMS The Word
A novel video game controller uses advanced microelectromechanical systems technology to create a more intuitive user interface.

Poll: Men Make Gaming Friends, Women Stay Solo
Also, around 40% of those who call themselves gamers play at least three to four hours a week, a new survey says.


6. Voice Of Authority

Qwest To The NSA: Put Up Or Shut Up
When the NSA asked all the telcos to participate in its apparently illegal campaign to create a database of every call ever made in the United States, only Quest refused. Preston Gralla applauds.


7. White Papers

20 Critical Questions To Ask A Microsoft Exchange Service Provider
Mi8 Corporation offers this guide to issues that should be considered when choosing a partner for outsourcing a company's messaging and collaboration system.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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