You haven’t got email

If you had to pick one app to take to a desert island, it would be email. As probably the most used app on the planet, and due to it’s long lineage, it is based on some very old protocols, POP3, IMAP and to some extent MAPI.

For me, it can be a good example of the inherent trade-off in all software between what developers have designed and what you as a user, would like it to do. This is an implicit, but not much discussed “contract”. In general, a user does not have much control over how their apps are designed and barring moaning about features or bugs, we are forced to accept what we are given. The social and psychological implications of this would make an interesting study. Software has only recently, within a generation, exploded on the world and the long-term implications are unknown.

In my case, I (or rather we), use email in a way for which it was not designed but I think makes complete sense.

Because we have only one mailbox supplied by our ISP, we share it with some forwarding addresses so that we can use address like dad@duncanthuy.com, mum@duncanthuy.com, daughter@duncanthuy.com and son@duncanthuy.com. My wifes’ name is Thuy BTW. Our individual mail clients can filter on the to: address and a copy of the email is left on the server so that multiple people can check email on multiple devices. One slight problem is that the mailbox does have to be manually maintained periodically in case it fills up. Another is that sent mail is only kept on the client. I can live with both of those. IMAP is not attractive because I have email going back to the 80s and that isn’t going to go on one server and if one of us deletes an email it will prevent the others from seeing it. Maybe a separate mailbox is possible for each person under the same domain but I am not sure, will have to check. Even if it is possible it would be more expense, which is certainly not attractive.

The point is I can’t use IMAP and that means I can’t use Windows 8 because it turns out that the email client on Windows 8 does not support POP3.

As so often with software products it is my way or the highway and since this is not a case of features or bugs but basic functionality, it’s the highway for me. Microsoft have decided that the rule is one mailbox per person and that’s that. I daresay other email clients are available for Windows 8 so that is another line of investigation. In the meantime I’ll try not to get annoyed about it!

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