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About.com Review of Windows 8's Mail App

A Passable Mail Client Free for Windows 8 Users

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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Click or tap the tile to launch the Mail app.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Robert Kingsley

Windows 8's built-in Mail app provides a quick and easy mail client that will serve users' most basic needs. It allows for simple configuration of multiple accounts so you can get all of your email in one place without any fuss. You'd be hard pressed to find an email client that's easier to set up and use.

While its simple interface is great for the most casual of users, a power user will find that Mail lacks a lot of the features and options they'd expect. Its lack of support for POP accounts will also alienate many users with ISP-provided POP3 email accounts.

In the end, Mail is an app geared toward a home user who just wants an easy way to view their email. Anyone looking for a feature rich client won't find it here.

Simple to Understand, Simple to Use

Windows 8’s built-in Mail app provides a simple way to get your emails all together in one place. It comes pre-installed so to get started you’ll just have to tap its tile on your Start screen. It walks you through the procedure of setting up your first account, so even the most uncomfortable of users will have little trouble.

The Mail interface is very simple to understand and master. It’s laid out in three columns: the first lists your accounts and their folders, the second lists your messages and the third displays the selected message. Sending emails is as simple as clicking a big “+” button and typing. Mail’s oversized buttons and wide spaced windows are very touch-friendly, but traditional mouse users will find it just as easy to navigate.

There is Such a Thing as Too Simple

It’s obvious that ease of use was a major priority in the design of Mail; there are little to no buried features or options that would confuse or intimidate users. While many will view this as a major feature, others might find it constricting. There are no options to change the way Mail works - what you see is what you get. Some mail clients provide the capabilities to set up distribution lists, select layouts, toggle your preview pane and even change your color scheme, but that just isn’t Mail. This app just downloads your Mail and shows it to you.

POP3 Users are in for a Headache

A major drawback that will affect a number of users is Mail's lack of support for POP3 accounts. It can handle Yahoo accounts, but that's as far as its support goes. Sure, most email providers use IMAP these days, but there are still plenty of ISP's handing out POP3 accounts to their users. If you're such a user, you can get around this limitation by pulling your POP3 email into an Outlook.com account and then syncing that to Mail, but that's an annoying thing to be forced to do.

It’s Gotten Better Since Release

As I mentioned previously, this app is simple, in fact, out of the box it lacked even basic features that should be expected of any mail client. Luckily, in March of 2013 Microsoft released an update that added a few new features that make it a more viable solution. Mail now has the ability to create or delete folders and route messages to them for organizational purposes, you can now flag messages as important or as SPAM if needed, you can filter your inbox to show only unread messages and you can even search for old emails stored on your email provider’s servers rather than having to download all your messages since the beginning of time.

These features aren't innovative or special; in fact they should have been included since day one. Regardless when they were added, the fact that they are available makes Mail a viable option worth looking at.

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a simple, bare-bones email client to grab your emails and show them to you, look no further. You won’t find a more user-friendly Mail client anywhere. If you’re a power user looking for options and advanced features, Mail just isn't for you.

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