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Microsoft Outlook Alternatives

Updated on November 1, 2013

In the world of Windows computing, Microsoft Outlook is still king of the hill. In it's latest incarnation (Outlook 2013), many features have been enhanced, include a faster, more streamlined appearance, less clutter and better integration with the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. Admittedly, much of the popularity is due in no small part to the bundling in the office suite, and many businesses need that suite anyway. But Outlook is not cheap. I did a little price shopping, and the best price I could find was $89.00 for the stand alone software. To get it as part of the office suite, you will spend in excess of $200 (Office Home and Student, the cheapest version of MS Office suite, doesn't include Outlook).

Of course, if you have a free email account like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail, you can always go to the web and read your email online. But what if you're like me, and you have six different email accounts? Or someone who needs to access company email from home? Perhaps you're starting a new business and are on a tight budget? Are there any free or nearly free alternatives to Outlook?

As it turns out, there are many. And as far as features go, there's a wide range available. What follows is a list of Windows-based alternatives to Microsoft Outlook. And for the Linux fans out there, I'm working on a list of Linux email clients, so keep an eye out for that hub.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird is quite possible the best know Microsoft Outlook replacement. Stable, cross platform, and with tons of features, this is an extremely flexible email client. One if its strengths lie in numerous add-ons, so the user can custom tailor what features are available to use. Thunderbird also includes a user friendly tabbed interface (a far superior interface to Outlook), migration assistance from Outlook, attachment reminders, a flexible address book, and tons of extra features.

There was some concern in 2012 that Thunderbird would soon be dead, as Mozilla would no longer continue to develop the software. However, community support for Thunderbird is huge, and various bug fixes, new and improved ad-ons, and new features have continued to roll out, thanks in large part to the open source community.

Zimbra Desktop

Zimbra's Desktop email client can be thought of as an Outlook alternative that is business ready. All of the features a business user looks for... Calander, Contact manager, mutiple account management... is right at your fingertips. The interface is very sleek and modern in appearance, and is much more user friendly that Microsoft Outlook. One of the great features of Zimbra is integration with social media sites and services. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Digg, as well as others can all be accessed though Zimbra. (If you are involved in social media marketing, having all of these streams available is incredibly efficient.)


Looking for a fun way to do email? Incredimail might be your ticket. This email client includes animated email notifiers, tons of emoticons, photo mailers, and much more “fun stuff.” While checking this program out, I saw lots of great email backgrounds, and neat greeting cards. What I didn't see, however, was much in the way of business friendly tools. No calander, a very simple contact list (and it is simply a contact list, as opposed to a contact manager), and outgoing mail that contains adds (at least in the free version) made this a no-go for me. However, not everyone looks at email from a business perspective, so if you want a simple, no frills email client for personal use, then Incredimail might be for you.

EM Client

EM Client looks a lot like Microsoft Outlook, so if you are an Outlook user, you will feel right at home. It is free for personal use, with a subscription based package for small to mid sized businesses. But even the free version includes all of the tools most Outlook users are looking for in an email client. Calendar and contact manager, custom email signatures, global folders and search folders, as well as the ability to create email rules... its all there. The calender, by the way is top notch; I wish Outlooks was as functional and clean looking.

EM Client has its own exchange service so you can syn email between PC and mobile devices. It's $50/year, which is far cheaper than most exchange services.

Setting up EM Client is a breeze, and there is an import wizard which will help you migrate from Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Windows mail and a host of others. You can also import Facebook contacts, sync Google contacts, and set up instant messaging.

My biggest gripe with EM Client is its overall apearance. It looks dated and disorganized (much like Outlook). However, once set up, I think you will find its extensive feature set productive and rewarding.


Looking for a modern-looking, feature rich email client? You may want to give Postbox a try. This email client is $10, but it comes with a thirty-day trial, so you can check it out for free. Postbox v3.0.7 is actually based on Thunderbird: If you go to Tools > Options, you'll find a very familiar looking Options dialog. The rest of the interface, however, looks different. Gone is the traditional horizontally-split layout, replaced by a vertical split that puts your message headers on the left, with the message body on the right, much like the Gmail Offline Chromeextension. You can still bring the Classic View back, though.

I played around with Postbox, and found it very easy to use, with a slick, clean interface. Like Thunderbird, the interface is tabbed, so you can switch between multiple emails with a simple click. Setting up email accounts was a breeze, and the features that I needed where all there. Gravatars are added to emails, so at a glance you can see a picture of who you're emailing with. There are several add-ons available as well... not quite the number as Thunderbird, but the basics are covered.

Postbox may be the email client for you if you are looking for an easy to use email client that has lots of features, but supports a modern UI.

I hope you've enjoyed this hub. Tried an email client that I haven't listed? Let's here about it!


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