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Outlook Express

By Richard Lowe
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Outlook Express is a reasonably nice email, newsgroup and contacts client. One of the best things about this program is the fact that it is free - if, of course, you install Internet Explorer on your system.

Let's start with the positive things about this program. The email client is on a par with most other email clients. You can do just about anything that you would ever desire, including creating maintaining email accounts, receiving messages, replying, forwarding, and so on.

One of the real benefits to Outlook Express is the ability to create identities. I don't know about you, but I have several email accounts. Using the standard Outlook 2000 client all of the messages from all of the accounts get thrown together in one list (my understanding is that Outlook XP fixes this, but who wants to install such a piece of garbage as Office XP on their system?) Outlook express allows you to create more-or-less separate, well, everything for each and every email account (if you so desire). This way, all of the contacts, inbox, sendbox and so on are totally unique to the account.

The newsgroup reader is the standard, online type. This was the first newsgroup reader that I ever used, and it meets most of the requirements of anyone doing light to medium reading and posting. Other, far better newsgroup clients now exist, however, so Outlook Express cannot be recommended based upon the newsgroup client alone.

Contacts are handled in a more or less standard way. You've got a list of contacts, and you can add their mailing information as needed. The contact can be defined directly from an email message, which is a nice touch.

The rule engine in Outlook Express probably was considered advanced many years ago, but by today's standards it is mundane. However, it can be used to block spam, file away messages and perform autoreplies.

A feature which is really cool is called Email Stationary. One of the best features about Outlook Express is the built-in stationary editor. It's not super-sophisticated, but it does the job of creating simple and intermediate stationary files very well.

Okay, now for the negatives about this product. I can sum up the biggest negative in just one sentence:

The reason why viruses such as Melissa, Iloveyou and the like exist and thrive is the proliferation of Outlook and Outlook Express.

You see, Outlook Express (and it's big brother Outlook) support email scripting. Other email clients do allow you to execute programs and scripts, but very few of them allow the email client itself to be invoked from the script or executable. Why is this a problem?

Here's an example. Read and execute a virus in a different email client and you could wipe out your own system. Read the same virus in Outlook Express (or Outlook) and you can additionally automatically (and often without your knowledge) send that virus to everyone you've ever communicated with on email.

Before the days of email scripting, creating a self-replicating virus was a large task requiring a very knowledgeable person. He would have to design and create a means whereby the virus sent itself to other systems. Once email scripting was invented and became popular, virtually anyone with a few days or weeks of script training (or reading of manuals) could do the same.

So if you use Outlook Express, you MUST install a very good virus checking program (such as Norton Antivirus) and you MUST keep the definitions up-to-date. Unfortunately, the email security patch for Outlook which disables email scripting does not apply to Outlook Express, so is of no help. (I am not sure if the scripting problem applies to the Outlook Express which ships with Internet Explorer 6 and above as I have not installed that program yet).

To sum it up quickly, Outlook Express is a reasonable email and newsgroup client. The best that can be said about it is the product works and it's free. You are, however, exposing yourself to some risk if you use the program, especially if you do not have a good antivirus program installed.

Additional Reading

Changing Location Of Outlook Stationary ( The location of Outlook and Outlook Express stationary files is contained in the registry. You can modify this value.

Creating Stationery Using Outlook Express 5 Lesson #1 - Basics (

Creating Stationery Using Outlook Express 5 Lesson #2 - Stationery Wizard

Email - The most critical application on the web ( Email is the most used and most important component on the web. There are lots of options available to make your email experience better and more more fulfilling.

Outlook Stationery
( Both Outlook and Outlook Express support stationery files, which allow you to send very cool-looking email messages.

The Ultimate In Virus Protection ( Learn how to protect your computer and your hard work. Start with a backup plan, install antivirus software and subscribe to newsletters.

( The most important thing you can do to protect your system is install a virus checker (also known as an anti-virus program). These programs will scan your system for viruses and Trojan horses and delete or repair them. There are several products including those by McAfee and Norton (Symantec).

About the Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at ( - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.


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