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E-mail start-up looks to rival Outlook

Microsoft's Outlook e-mail program overshadows applications from competitors, but that isn't stopping upstart Stata Labs from trying to edge its way in.

Microsoft's Outlook e-mail program overshadows applications from competitors, but that hasn't stopped would-be rivals from mushrooming.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Stata Labs became one of the latest entrants to the market this week, announcing e-mail software and a spam-filtering program that aim to make in-box searches easier and less time-consuming. The e-mail program, called Bloomba, is available in a test version. The final version is expected by the end of the second quarter. Pricing has not been determined, but will be competitive to Microsoft's Outlook and Qualcomm Communications' Eudora programs, according to Stata Labs.

"We're targeting those 40 million workers who spend more than two hours a day on e-mail," said Raymie Stata, chief technology officer of Stata Labs. "Our long-term goal is to kill off folders as the dominant (means) for organization."

Stata joins a growing list of mostly small companies developing applications and tools for e-mail, each with its own special feature to target a specific group of customers. For example, Isbister has developed a $35 e-mail program, Express Plus, for Windows users that allows customers to view their in-box on their company's server so they can choose which messages to download. Victoria, British Columbia-based Poco Systems charges $50 for the portable version of its PocoMail program, which boasts tough antivirus features, among other things.

Some big fish are also testing the waters; AOL Time Warner's America Online division is testing a standalone e-mail application dubbed Communicator.

Stata hopes to differentiate itself through its search and spam-filtering features. Bloomba allows customers to search for key words in attachments as well as within the text of messages. The application is based on Stata's database technology, which can cut search times in in-boxes from minutes to seconds, the company said.

Stata's spam-filtering program, SAproxy, is based on an open-source spam identification technology that can be used with any POP3 account in a Windows environment. Bloomba and SAproxy have been fine-tuned to work together to identify and quarantine spam.