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Free for all

Free for all
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First Published: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 12 30 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 12 30 AM IST
Yahoo! India Mail, since its launch in 2001, has acquired many users and is the biggest free email service in India. GMail has seriously challenged this supremacy but Yahoo! continues to rule. It is familiar, has a good-looking user-interface and very little downtime.
Unfortunately, SPAM is received on a Yahoo! ID in large numbers. Recently, the user-interface of Yahoo! Mail underwent cosmetic surgery and users feel that since then, it does look better, but is slower. This is a service with a lot of bells and whistles that may not be needed, but some are quite useful. On the whole, it is reliable, if only they could get the SPAM to stop (or at least reduce). Rating: 3.5/5
Like all things Google, their mail service has a fairly empty look to it. But underneath this empty look and feel is a powerful mail service that is slowly starting to take hold.
In the mail client, the look is simple with mails on the right part and commands on the left. Each mail and the thread that begins with it (replies, forwards etc) becomes a “conversation”. The advantage of this is that you can view all the mails in this conversation in one click.
The mailbox has no virtually size limit (or as GMail puts it, it’s 2821.879857 megabytes and counting!).
So you really don’t have to delete another mail again! SPAM controls on GMail are also far better than on Yahoo! Although it’s not 100% accurate, it works most of the time. Just be careful not to send a mail to a GMail user without a subject. It often finds its way into the junk folder!
Among all the features, perhaps the most interesting one is the inclusion of Chat within the Inbox window. One doesn’t have to use it, but if you are on a slow connection or computer and want to save on resources, this is handy.
By far the most powerful of all mail services available at the moment, we hesitate to ask for a better look for fear of functionality being compromised. Rating: 4.5/5
Formerly known as Hotmail, the new avatar of the service was long overdue. And after some strange things like not offering more than 2MB mailbox space for a while, Microsoft finally decided it was time to bump up the service.
The new user interface of Hotmail mirrors Outlook perfectly. It even offers users the chance to change the colours and this does work very fast. Navigation, though, remains a nightmare. Once in the calendar workspace, it’s pretty hard to get back to the inbox. We actually had to re-enter “hotmail.com” in the address bar of the browser!
But, for all the prettying up, Hotmail’s SPAM controls are among the worst. So they have lost many users and continue to do so. For instance, Hotmail Live doesn’t work in Firefox 2.0. Rating: 2.5/5
If you have been using Hotmail and Yahoo! and simply cannot let go, it’s OK. But if you are looking to sign up for a new account, and how an inbox looks is not important to you, go for GMail. It’s by far the best.
A neat little email service called Bluebottle.com offers SPAM controls “like no one else”. To control SPAM from flooding your inbox, Bluebottle uses a verification system that only accepts email from known senders. When an email from an address not on the user’s ‘Allowed’ list is received, a verification request is sent asking the sender to verify themselves in one of two ways.
A successful response to a verification request automatically places the sender’s address on your Allowed list. This procedure ensures that the sender is human and not a computer randomly sending out emails. SPAM is a result of machines sending out emails at an astounding speed!
Functional as it may be, there are many features lacking. If SPAM protection is No. 1 on your list for an email account, this is where your search stops! But don’t expect it to be fancy! Rating: 3.5/5
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First Published: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 12 30 AM IST
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