Outlook Still Better Than Thunderbird

The philosophy behind portable applications appeals to so much that I spend a lot of time evaluating replacements for the non-portable software that I use. Most recently I decided to give Mozilla's Thunderbird a try to see if it was good enough to replace Outlook. Sadly this turned out to not be the case.

When I tried Thunderbird many months (years?) ago I dismissed it almost immediately because it didn't have calendar support. For me, a calendar goes hand-in-hand with e-mail and so it took me all of 15 minutes to conclude that Outlook was still the better application.

What motivated me to try Thunderbird again was a new add-on from Mozilla called Lightning that promised to add calendaring functionality to the Thunderbird interface. Technically this add-on does what it promises, but it misses out on one key piece of functionality — accepting meeting invites from Outlook. Argh! I also tested out an add-on called LookOut that seemed to suggest it would allow Lightning to accept Outlook invites, but it too was a bust. This lack of meeting invite support is a show-stopper for me so out the window with the whole kit and kaboodle.

As a side note, Thunderbird also does a horrible job of filtering spam even after training it against thousands of spam messages and hundreds of good messages. I've become accustomed to the awesome abilities of the Cloudmark anti-spam Outlook add-on and so anything less just won't do. The folks at Cloudmark do have a beta version of their anti-spam tool for Thunderbird, but I couldn't get it to work. That's strike two against Thunderbird.

So Outlook is still my preferred e-mail and calendaring client which in itself isn't bad. I just wish it was portable!

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Marios, I have repaired many outlook problems, and I know people lose their email, especially when they have email from way back....outlook is just a stupid like this, it is a bloated program that presents the user with lots of shiny stuff then shits in their face. Therefore, I recommend to people not to use it if they are interested in long term email management. Thunderbird on the other hand is easily recoverable on the rare events it does crash and more importantly user emails are safe and in a simple format that is easily recovered using just the copy command. I understand what you mean with the nice features of outlook, but there is more to selection of a mail program than just the features - for example stability, recoverability and reliability. Thanks for putting me onto the spam filter plug-in. I'm happy with the standard facility that links in with spamassasin, but will give this a try too and see if it is worth the effort for those email servers without spamassasin or a good spam removal tool.

  2. One reason I cannot rely on reviews like this is because no publish date is anywhere to be found. By purposely omitting a date anywhere on this web page, reviewers such as yourself hang opinions out there for years which to the uninitiated, seem relevant. Few are fooled by this ruse; except the uninitiated, as noted.

    • Yes Kevin, this is an excellent point. There is no mention of the version of the Thunderbird or Lightning being used either. What could be an informative opinion ends up being a useless waste of the reader's time.

  3. Marios Alexandrou

    Pachmarhi, Thanks for the info. It didn't occur to me to search for "tricks" to get Outlook calendar invites to work with Thunderbird. I figured it would work "out out of the box" or not at all. I'll have to spend some time and see if I can track down the information you once saw.

  4. I've just installed the Cloudmark beta for Thunderbird and had no problems at all. It very kindly wiped out 408 spam with no false positives and no false negatives. Personally, I'm a fan of Thunderbird because it is so customisable. I have seen some postings on the web somewhere to work around the problem of accepting Outlook calendar meeting requests in Thunderbird and it is possible. Just no time to locate the info at present as it's not important to me.

  5. I used Thunderbird for a few years because it supported newsgroups, but as soon as I stropped using them, I've gone back to Outlook Express (now Windows Mail, in Vista). It's just a lot nicer to use, even if it does lack some features.

  6. Marios Alexandrou

    Dan, Thanks for the offer, but as long as the calendar functionality for Thunderbird doesn't support Outlook meeting requests, it won't matter to me if the Cloudmark plugin works.

  7. Marios, I work for Cloudmark in technical support and I came upon your blog posting about the Cloudmark Desktop for Thunderbird beta. We would like to assist you with your issue, if you are interested. We have an offer for you that we think you'll enjoy. Please send an email to support@cloudmark.com whenever you get a chance, and mention your blog posting. Best regards, Dan Cohen

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