I suspect that most users don’t think too much about software choices. They use what is available or what is familiar. In many cases any gain in productivity made by switching to a different application for a given task is offset by the labor and training required by the switch itself.
E-mail is one case where this trade-off needs to be more closely examined. Eudora is widely used at IWU but is no longer supported by Qualcomm. Thunderbird is a popular free and open source e-mail application. It does a great job supporting things like authenticated outgoing mail (needed for sending mail from off-campus) and IMAP (needed for storing and manipulating incoming mail on the server) while Eudora has not done so well working with these technologies. This would not be a big problem if it were easy to switch from Eudora to Thunderbird. Unfortunately the import procedure is anything but smooth if there is a lot of mail involved. And one thing is for sure – people keep a lot of mail.
Recently a development has occurred that brings me hope – Eudora has stopped developing their old code and begun to build Eudora 8.0 based on the core of Thunderbird. So the underpinnings will work well with the protocols we need here at IWU, but there will be user interface features borrowed from the “classic” Eudora design. In the recently released beta (test) version of Eudora 8 the following features were announced:
- menu structures will be similar to classic Eudora
- shortcut keys will largely be the same as classic Eudora
- mailbox list can be separated from the actual mailbox
- improved importing from classic Eudora to new Eudora, including filters and address book
My hope is that the new Eudora 8 will provide a smooth transition from the old unsupported classic versions into a much more productive, supported Thunderbird-based e-mail application without trading away any ease of use AND without a painful upgrade process.
Please note that Eudora 8 is in beta test and SHOULD NOT be installed on University computers.
If you’d like to read more, here is an article from Wired Magazine about the release: