Users and email applications

Thunderbird is, in my opinion, a nice email program. It’s straightforward, streamlined and visually appealing. It gives you plenty of control, it complies with standards, it supports IMAP very well, and it has a facility for easily adding plugins to extend its functionality.

Outlook, on the other hand, seems to me like a bloated, clunky mess. It’s slow, it looks messy, it misses vital configuration options and puts the rest of them in confusing places. It doesn’t support email standards very well and its IMAP support is dreadful: for example, when you delete an email it doesn’t get automatically purged – instead, it just sits there with a line drawn through it until you manually click the ‘purge’ button!

Because of this, I thought I was doing our company a favour when I attempted to standardise on Thunderbird. A few people objected at first, but I honestly thought they’d start to much prefer Thunderbird once they’d had a chance to use it for a while. And yet people have continued to beg and plead for Outlook to the point where I’ve finally given up and decided to standardise on Outlook. I still don’t understand this, but if people want crap then, as far as I’m concerned, they can have it. It actually reduces our installation time because Outlook gets installed anyway as part of Office, whereas Thunderbird needs to be added as an extra application.

People seem to view Outlook as the Holy Grail of email environments, and Thunderbird is perceived as a poor alternative that must be endured because their nasty System Administrator won’t give them what they want. They always look so incredibly happy when they get their beloved Outlook back. But I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY. I’ve spend quite some time asking users to explain to me, or show me, what it is about Outlook that they love so much, and they just go quiet. Even they don’t seem to know why they want it so much. One person managed to mumble something about it feeling a bit more ‘professional’ when you send an email to a customer, or something, and another one said he thought he preferred the ’tile view’ that you get in the address book, or something, but that’s about it. I still have no real idea why people are always so desperate to use Outlook for email. It’s a complete mystery to me, and I honestly find it quite depressing.