Ask Leo: Why Outlook Express Must Die


By Leo Notenboom

I rarely make negative comments about specific programs or products. I
prefer instead to present a more positive view of the products that I like and
recommend rather than saying bad things about the products I don’t.

Not long ago, Microsoft introduced the Internet Explorer 6
in an effort to publicize the fact that there’s no valid reason
to continue to use IE6. Its days are over. IE7, 8 and 9 are all available,
more stable and more importantly, more secure. (And, of course, there’s a host of
other browsers as well, but I’m not shocked to find that fact missing from the
Microsoft site.)

In my opinion, they didn’t go far enough. It’s time for another program of
that same era to go away.

Outlook Express must die.

Outlook Express Loses Email

This is purely empirical, based on the problem reports that I’ve gotten from
people over the last seven-plus years of doing Ask Leo!

Next to email account thefts, the biggest problem that I hear about is people losing email, often forever, while using Outlook Express. It happens so much that I cringe whenever I see a question come in that mentions it; I know that the news will not be good.

Anyone who’s mistakenly answered “Yes” to the “Compact Now?” prompt has
probably felt the pain. (Hint: Don’t do it.)

Outlook Express’ storage format is apparently fragile, difficult to backup
in a way that’s useful for anything other than a complete restore, and almost
impossible to repair without expensive third-party tools.

Outlook Express is No Longer Supported

The last time Microsoft included Outlook Express with a browser was with Internet
Explorer 6. The fact that they’re now actively discouraging IE6’s use should
tell you something about Outlook Express.

There are no more releases, no more bug fixes, and precious little help if
you have a problem.

Microsoft removed Outlook Express from Windows Vista, and there’s no way to
get Outlook Express in Windows 7 short of running a complete copy of Windows XP
in a virtual machine (“XP Mode”) – and even that only for Windows 7 Pro or

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12 thoughts on “Ask Leo: Why Outlook Express Must Die”

  1. I have MS Office Outlook, I use Outlook Express. I maintain the database regularly and archive email monthly. In return I have had years of faithful service from this sturdy little piece of software. The thought of upgrading my OS to one without Outlook Express or even the choice to run it worries me. I need to be able to view and edit the source code of html messages. I will not forward anything until I see and usually edit what I am forwarding. All other email clients I’ve tried are confusing, clumsy…far from “sleek”, some of those tied to one “cloud” or another. I’ll keep looking but I’m afraid I’m doomed to run my ancient XP Media Center for a long, long time. (please no scary stories about the unsupported OS. MS already made her into the worlds most expensive paperweight once with a “critical update” and failed to repair their “oops,’m I bad”? given 6 separate opportunities to do so. I suspect there has been little support all along) As Hubby says “Change without improvement is not progress”.

  2. I am running OE6 on an XP virtual machine (running under W7) having had to move from an older W2k machine last year. I want to move all my OE6 stuff to T’bird for the very reasons in your article – mysteriously disappearing email messages in OE6. I have tried importing everything across from OE6 > T’bird and guess what? … it didn’t work 100%; many of my OE6 messages didn’t appear in T’bird upon completing the import. The address book moved 100% OK tho’. Might this failure be connected to the quantity of stuff I’m trying to move – about 5.2 Gb of messages? But, if it is, how do I make it work correctly? Also, a load of empty Search Folders were displayed in T’bird after the import had completed. What’s that about?


  3. Well said. Outlook should die too but for a different reason–it’s a mammoth.
    I ditched Outlook Express years ago after seeing two different friends go through the very problem you talk about–losing email. I wasn’t about to wait until I became a victim too.

  4. I recently lost a windows 7 computer which I had competed a backup to flash drive. Whn I go to open it it tells me platform is not supported. Of all the things I miss, it is all of my previous outlook mail. Will you PLEASe Please tell me how to extract this information from my flashdrive?? Thank you. Lynn

  5. Outlook Express was a great, stable email program. It provided many capabilities, and a reliability that was never matched by its competitors. Live Mail, T-bird, Incredimail, and so on are mimics of OE that all fall short of comparison. Live mail, in particular, forces you away from the universal inbox and tries to force you to store your email on Microsoft servers! The main reasons for using OE was it was the best program, the most flexible/customizable program, and secure program thatyou could get. I hate that MS forces its customers to re-learn where everything is and how to get to it every time they upgrade a program like their email client, and their Office Suite. One almost thinks that is what changes rather than any specific improvements in the security and performance. None of the alternatives can hoild a candle to what they put out as late as 2003. Its a shoddy way to do business, and a shoddy way to treat their customers.

  6. yes. let it die. not unlike CP/M, it is beyond its uselessness. The fellow with the funny name? saying leo is in cahoots with ms? now, that is a bit far-fetched, don’t you think?

  7. Quote:
    Anyone who’s mistakenly answered “Yes” to the “Compact Now?” prompt has probably felt the pain. (Hint: Don’t do it.)

    This option is also available in Mozilla Thunderbird. Should it be avoided there as well?

  8. James Setterington

    I think that your comments about “Outlook Express” are not valid.I have had “Outlook Express” since I got a computer in 1998, and I have had no problem with “Outlook Express” like you say a lot of people have said! I think that you are in cahoots with Microsoft and their ilk! Another thing, don’t you realize just how unsafe ‘Facebook’ is for anyones information? Do you not read/hear on the Tv/Radio/paper about the people that have had their childrens ‘Facebook’ page information used by such an unscrupulous type of a person, that they have tried to ‘make sure they can lure them for their evil ways’? Okay so I made my point, but after all I had my face book page used that way too.I found out that someone had accessed my page to ‘glean info’ from it.
    “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee”?, don’t go hiding your in the sand about ‘Facebook/Twitter’!

    1. James, you’ve obviously got an axe to grind about Facebook. Fine. But it’s totally out of place to rant about it when it is no way connected to the topic.

  9. Love it – go even farther – outlook in any variant should die – It drives me crazy, but I’m forced to use it still at work.

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