Eudora 5.0 beta: A Nice Upgrade, and Free

Eudora already had much in its favor: The program easily handles multiple e-mail accounts; has excellent message filtering capabilities; and lets you import account settings and address books from Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Outlook in just three clicks. Eudora can import mail from Netscape Messenger and Microsoft's Outlook 98, Outlook Express, and Outlook 2000. Setting up new accounts is easy: Simply import the settings from another program, or walk through a few simple steps. Eudora also helps prevent exposure to viruses: By default, it won't execute without your approval any code, such as ActiveX or JavaScript, in HTML e-mail messages or attachments.

The late beta of Eudora 5.0 that I tested (the final version is due in mid-September) offers minor usability improvements, as well as Eudora Sharing Protocol - a compelling reason to upgrade. With that feature, a group of users can share a mailing list as well as a file folder that is synchronized on each participant's hard drive. Like a group version of Windows Briefcase, ESP periodically syncs up everyone's shared folder with new or updated files. Setting up an ESP group is straightforward: After you create your folder and mailing list, Eudora sends out invitations to fellow Eudora 5.0 users. When they accept, their copies of Eudora synchronise with yours, downloading the group list and folder to their systems. You can give group members either full or read-only access; under the latter, files they modify or add to their folder don't sync, and thus don't change the master files.

In the Mood

Qualcomm has also expanded Eudora's language tools beyond the spelling checker. A new tool called MoodWatch gauges how offensive a message might be to recipients. The feature flags potentially upsetting messages with two or three chilli-pepper icons; PG-rated mail gets one, and G-rated messages aren't labeled at all. The feature could come in handy if you want to prescreen incoming messages, or if you need a reminder to tone down your own language in outgoing ones.

But MoodWatch's performance proved spotty - it flagged some benign messages, ignored a message in which I called the recipient an idiot, and gave a two-pepper warning when I used the word moron. Unfortunately, you can't add words to MoodWatch's scan list. But if MoodWatch annoys you, it's easy to turn off.

If you're bugged by Eudora's ad-supported Sponsored mode, you can either pay up for the ad-free paid version or opt for Eudora Lite, which costs nothing and contains no ads, but also drops MoodWatch and ESP. If you decide to brave the Sponsored version, note that you can detach the ad frame and drag it to any location on your screen. That instantly doubles the size of your mailbox frame, though you must keep the ad visible at all times to stave off the program's nag screens (Do you wanna upgrade? Huh? Do ya?) Eudora 5.0 is a strong upgrade. And if you can tolerate a few ads, you can't beat the price.

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