This could feel like a mini-course in ancient history, but I’m only heading back 20 years.
In the mid 1980’s during University, my email was a mcgill.ca address while my American associates had an “.edu” email address. Access to these systems was via a Telnet session at the school’s terminals. From home, I could dial-in to a SLIP server with a 2400 baud modem, and get my email as long as I had a Telnet client.
Those who didn’t visit College had usage of a Freenet account, that was also accessible through Telnet.
When I graduated and had to fund an Internet Service Provider, I accessed email through POP and SMTP with Outlook or Eudora for years until I wanted the ability to access the web from anywhere in the world. IMAP helped bridge the gap as long as the mail client was setup on might work and home computer so all my mail, Inbox, Sent Items, and Drafts, were synchronized.
With the popularity of web based emails by the mid 1990’s, the big 3 were MSN’s Hotmail, Yahoo! and Google’s Gmail buy edu email. People would change or have multiple accounts as storage area was the biggest headache. It wasn’t sometime ago when 2 megabytes was the most storage space. Gmail was the first to offer 2 gigabytes of storage, and continuously growing.
Most web based email providers had the ability to download POP email, your email “from” or “reply-to” address was usually your online based email address. That is acceptable for private use, but not for corporate use.
At a corporate level, Microsoft Exchange combined with Outlook client was extremely popular, and continues to be popular today. Exchange is a messaging and groupware server that uses IMAP together of the numerous protocols to access email. It also gets the Outlook Web Access feature that was easier than conventional web based email because it had your contacts, shared calendars and public folders.
Today, I still like using Outlook, because it supplies a great “store and forward” mechanism: the ability to work off-line on my laptop. I can easily work in Draft mode on an airplane and hook up to the Internet to synchronize my mailbox when back on land. Plus, my Contacts are synchronized with my Palm PDA or Blackberry wireless handheld device.
Sure, I could download my Yahoo or Gmail to my Outlook by utilizing POP, nonetheless it wouldn’t synchronize any changes. It also depends if my mail was deleted on the server after downloading, or stored on the server. Sorting email can be painfully slow with Yahoo in comparison to Gmail’s lightning fast search algorithm, but you can’t sort by file size, for example.
Since Gmail supports IMAP, by combining it with Outlook, I combine the best of both worlds. There are some options that come with Outlook I cannot live without, and with the popularity of social networking, integration with LinkedIn or Facebook makes it more appealing.
There is a trend for private email decreasing in favor of Instant Messaging and txt messaging via cell phone. However, Email will will have a devote the corporate world.