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No longer available on CD, Eudora 7's poky download took us about half an hour via DSL on our Windows XP machine. This 16.4MB program works with Windows 98, 2000, Me, and XP. After you download Eudora 7, you can choose from three modes of operation: Paid, Sponsored, and Light. The Paid mode includes SpamWatch and other goodies from Eudora 6, as well as a new X1 Indexed Search, the e-mail-screening BossWatch, live technical support, and a year of upgrades. These features are missing from the stripped-down, free versions: the ad-free Light and Sponsored Mode (with adware).
Eudora 7 sports the same clean interface as version 6, with large, simple icons along the top and mailboxes on the left side. A list of messages and a mail preview pane take up most of the screen. Unlike Corel WordPerfect Mail and Eudora's nemesis, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora 7 doesn't contain extras such as a calendar. Instead, Eudora 7 focuses on providing top-notch e-mail management.
With its unobtrusive onscreen ads, you might be tempted to use the free Sponsored Mode of Eudora 7, but then you'd miss the upgrade-worthy, Ultra-Fast Indexed Search. Powered by zippy X1 search technology that continuously updates its e-mail index, Indexed Search lets you scour any combination of mailboxes for a word or a phrase, using 20 different criteria such as the header, date, or the From line. You can add up to five search levels to home in on a particular message, then sort, reply, delete, and so on within the Results pane. This search tool produces results within seconds and can be an enormous time-saver. By contrast, Outlook 2003 offers a far less extensive, and therefore frustrating, search tool.
Eudora 7's new BossWatch feature can help you keep track of e-mail from chosen contacts, reminding you to reply tactfully, say, if your manager's name is buried at the bottom of a long CC: list. Eudora can warn you with a dialog box or a spoken message, using the Microsoft Text-to-Speech engine, before you send e-mail to a manager. BossWatch can also flag when you're about to send a message to specific domains, helpful if you want to keep sensitive messages within your company. This kind of screening may be useful in a large corporate environment with huge volumes of e-mail, although such big companies may prefer Outlook for its calendar integration. But we doubt that BossWatch would be crucial for home users who contact far fewer people via e-mail and can probably avoid reaching unintended recipients on their own.
Users who work in the corporate world, in business, or in academia and who receive e-mail via large networks can enjoy IMAP improvements that let users hide deleted messages in a mailbox and expand their ability to use Eudora offline. And a new S/MIME plug-in available from Eudora's Web site expands the ability to encrypt mail and use and verify digital signatures.
Paid users of Qualcomm Eudora 7 have a range of support options. Downloadable PDF documentation includes a 500+ page user guide, a basic quick-start guide with handy shortcut keys, and a new features guide. Qualcomm also offers a range of tutorials, a knowledge base, and user forums on its Web site. If these extensive resources don't answer your questions, telephone support is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT on weekdays. Our support call went straight to voicemail. However, within 20 minutes, we did receive a helpful and quick callback. For the first year, paid users receive six free calls, which cost $35 each thereafter. E-mail support is a good option; Eudora replied to our text question within hours with a follow-up question, although it took more than a day to completely resolve the question.
Overall, we recommend Eudora 7 if you're looking for a desktop e-mail program with a friendly interface and powerful features such as a thorough search tool. Corporate users may prefer a one-stop organizing tool such as Microsoft Outlook, but Eudora 7 is a robust tool for a small or home office.