First look at Eudora 6.0

If you're shopping for an e-mail client, you might want to consider an old friend: Qualcomm Inc. is releasing Eudora 6.0, its first significant upgrade in almost three years.

The newest version of the longstanding e-mail program provides new tools to help you stop the onslaught of spam, deal with long e-mail threads, and in general get organized.

Eudora 6.0 is available in three versions: The full version costs US$50 per year (US$40 as an upgrade from earlier versions); a sponsored version is free but includes ads; and a light version, also free, doesn't contain ads, but offers fewer features. For example, it lacks an automatic spelling checker. The full version also includes tech support and free upgrades within 12 months.

"With this launch, we're hoping to put the flag back in the mountain," says Bill Ganon, vice president of the Eudora products group at Qualcomm, of the long-awaited refresh.

Canning Spam

Key among the new features is Eudora's SpamWatch tool, which is available only to users of the paid version. It was added based on user feedback, Ganon says.

"SpamWatch presents a fairly automatic and efficient way to handle spam at the client level for users without an IT department behind them," he says.

For users with an IT department--or an ISP with spam-blocking tools--SpamWatch provides an additional layer of protection against unsolicited e-mail. It incorporates a Bayesian plug-in that searches messages for spam-related words or phrases, and a Header plug-in that reads headers inserted by any other spam-fighting programs in use. SpamWatch scores each message based on the likelihood that it is spam.

Mail with high scores is delivered directly to your junk mail folder, where it self-deletes after 30 days. The default threshold for junk mail is 50, but you can adjust the score for your needs. In my tests, SpamWatch's default settings sent all of the unwanted messages to the junk mail folder, but it also banished a few newsletters and some automated e-mail. Setting the score slightly higher worked well, although SpamWatch did let a few stray unwanted messages slip into my in-box.

Getting Organized

Also new in Eudora 6.0 is the Content Concentrator, a feature designed to transform long e-mail threads into manageable messages. It works as a sort of visual aid, stripping out redundant text in the preview pane.

For example, if three coworkers reply in succession to my long message, Content Concentrator removes the repeated text, such as signatures, the distribution list, and my original message. This way, I can glance at the preview pane and see their replies quickly. To view the entire content of a message, I simply open it to full view (this is the default setting--you can also apply Content Concentrator to open messages, not just those in the preview pane).

Another new feature is Format Painter, which lets you copy styles and formatting from one place to another. The new Contextual Filing feature enables you to file messages into designated mailboxes by selecting a particular keyword. Also, Eudora's user interface is entirely redesigned.

The revised look is one of the update's few drawbacks: I found it somewhat cluttered, especially when I was testing the ad-supported version, even though it had only a few small ads. The icons are large and bright, but their purposes are not apparent at first glance.

Also in need of improvement: The program forces you, when replying to a message, to you adjust the formatting. If you neglect to do so, Eudora leaves no space between your text and the message you're answering when you start typing. It may sound minor, but the extra step took some getting used to.

Nevertheless, Eudora remains as easy to use as any other e-mail application, and it lives up to its good reputation.

"We want to reinforce to users that Eudora is established and our products are in development," says Qualcomm's Ganon. Especially with such timely features as its spam management, Eudora continues to be a player worth a look.

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