A hard drive failure 12 months ago forced me to rethink my email system and my reliance on Outlook 2003. I decided to switch from POP3 to IMAP so, if I had another hard drive failure, I wouldn't be forced to re-download my entire inbox just to recover the last few days worth of mail. Gmail didn't support IMAP at the time so I moved to Fastmail.fm.
The problem I encountered is most IMAP email clients only download the headers until you actually read an email, which is a pain if you need to find something in your inbox while you're offline. A lot of IMAP email clients claim to let you automatically download the entire email but the feature often doesn't actually work (or doesn't work with sub-folders).
I think the only email clients that would do the job were Outlook Express and Thunderbird 1.5, when combined with the Sync on Arrival plugin. I opted for Thunderbird, because it has better features than Outlook Express and it's multi-platform. Frustratingly I haven't been able to upgrade to v2.0 because it won't work with Sync on Arrival.
At the time I'd just bought an iMate JasJam Windows Mobile 5 smartphone (a rebadged HTC Hermes, I think), which I wanted to sync with my desktop calendar - so it was easier to stick with Outlook 2003 for my calendar. I'd read about the Lightning calendar plugin for Thunderbird, as well as Birdie Sync for syncing with a WM5 device, but they were only early betas so I decided to put them on the roadmap and stick with Outlook for a while.
My calendar requirements aren't that high, I certainly wouldn't classify myself as a power user. All I really want are decent pop-up reminders with an audio alert and a snooze option. I don't do things like send and receive meeting appointments. I can see the merit in using Outlook if you're using Microsoft's collaboration features such as Sharepoint, but for your average user it's overkill (just like the other Microsoft Office apps).
Of course after yesterday's rant about moving apps online you'd expect me to be looking at a completely online email and calendar solution, such as the package from Google. The problem is I'm not happy with the desktop pop-ups you get with online applications - which is a problem for email, calendar and RSS applications. I've come to the conclusion that you need something installed on the desktop - even if it's just a notifier app.
Google Calendar combined with Google Notifier almost does the job, but it doesn't let me snooze appointments ie. remind me again in 15 minutes. Well, at least not the Mac version I'm using at the moment. If an appointment reminder comes up when I'm in the middle of something else, I need the option to postpone it so I don't continue with what I'm doing and then forget about the appointment. Again I know I'm being fussy, but as the end user that's my prerogative. If anyone knows of an online calendar with decent pop-ups I'd love to hear about it.
I'm sure online calendars will soon meet my needs, but meanwhile I need a desktop replacement so I can finally wash my hands of Outlook. So what are my options? CONTINUED