Mail over the web has always sucked.
That is why when gmail came out I signed up as quick as I could get a friend's friend that worked at Google to invite me.
gmail set a new standard for the masses on what a mail tool could be like. Fast, responsive, innovative, keyboard driven, etc.
In fact, when I had the option on my iMac to synch the gmail up with Apple's Mail I initially chose this route. But quickly decided that I loved the following about a web mail client:
- Don't have to learn another mail tool
- One place for all my files
- Don't waste my disk space on keeping mail
- Easy to find it from anywhere I have web access
- And I just like the interface (always room for improvement :-)
However, I guess my head was in the sand. I never really had heard of a company called OddPost that had been building a rich mail client. It had a very loyal following and was way before gmail and it turns out a lot richer.
Of course Yahoo had heard of them. That is why they bought them out last year. At the Ajax Summit, Iain Lamb one of the OddPosts founders (now part of the Yahoo!Mail team) presented his pre-Yahoo email client.
Iain and his team took the approach to model itself after Outlook (for obvious acceptance purposes). Only they tried to tone down the interface a little.
Some re-incarnation of this technology is the foundation for a brand new (or renovated) Yahoo!Mail client sure to be soon on our horizon. Will be interesting to compare with gmail.
Just found this one this morning. This is a Linux/Unix based solution that provides mail & calendars. The client runs in Firefox or IE and displays an almost complete clone of Outlook. Again, the client is the interesting part. It demonstrates how far you can take a DHTML client to mimic a fairly complex desktop application.
Scalix also competes head to head with the back office part of the Outlook Exchange system. Love it when Microsoft has competition :-)
And by the way I really hate the way Microsoft Outlook Web Mail client looks these days. Did they have to paint everything gradiated blue? Geez.
Web mail delivery is a natural. I for one have made the switch and do not want to go back. Of course at work I am still chained to outlook for calendar appointments :-(
Outside of the Ajax world, check out Laszlo Systems. They have a Mail client that has been adopted by Earthlink.
Also check out this Business Week article on web mail.