Fastmail and the Continuing Quest to be an ex-Outlook User

4 Mar ’06

Thanks to Sutha, I’ve recently discovered Chattermail, a most excellent and wildly well-supported push email client for the Treo. But an unruly IMAP implementation at my host has been making life difficult for Chattermail and for Outlook on the desktop (and Outlook already has its own IMAP issues). So, again at Sutha’s suggestion, I’ve now switched hosts to Fastmail, and while it’s still early days, so far I’m dazzled by the difference.

IMAP runs smoothly and access to the Fastmail servers is blindingly fast. Fastmail’s webmail is superb – the page design in rich and powerfully well-featured, but simple to operate. Web pages snap up in an instant. It’s very impressive.

In fact, Fastmail’s webmail is so good, I’ve dropped Outlook from the laptop and am running email off the web for a while to see what happens. It’s not a divorce (yet) – more of a trial separation. But not using Outlook has dramatically accelerated workflow on the laptop – the web is faster. This is not a surprise for many, of course – Gmail users are legion. But as I’ve blogged before, Outlook and I are joined at the hip, though I’m constantly on the lookout for a better way. So encountering Fastmail is yet another opportunity to explore the idea that I ought to actually have the power to control how the various bits and pieces of desktop functionality fit together. It should be easier to do this, but Microsoft has a lock on me because the unholy trinity – address book, email and PDA sync – all need to peacefully co-exist (OK, calendar too, but “unholy trinity” sounds better than “evil quartet”).

I’m happy to try out these changes, of course, because it’s just so darned annoying to sync my Outlook data across platforms outside of an Exchange environment. It’s an interesting strategic choice for MS – in their effort to force me to buy Exchange – they are encouraging me and many others like me – all of us now able to collaborate online and easily publish to each other the results of our labours – to experiment with their competitors’ solutions. And in the “as it turns out it happened much faster than anyone expected” long run, these solutions will come.

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