The Day the Music Died

I had the misfortune today of trying out Microsoft Live Mail Desktop Beta (what a mouthfull). And I think this is one of the most disappointing things to roll out of Microsoft. Barring ActiveSync, of course, but that’s another story.

Windows Live Mail Desktop is just the next version of good ol’ Outlook Express. Anyone remember Outlook Express? The one that “used to” come with your Windows. The software that automagically disappeared from the face of the Earth when Microsoft decided to eliminate the it from the equation when the EU (and a lot of other people) said that bundling an email client along with Windows was not a good idea. For some weird reason which is beyond my comprehension, of course.

Well guess what people, good ole plain-and-ugly is back, now in a not so ugly avatar. And with a new name.

The new client (I refuse to use the name more than twice) supports RSS, and the Hotmail (and now Live mail) access functionality that was so brutally removed from all Microsoft email clients (Outlook, and Express). And most of the old features (Everyone who knows what NNTP is, raise their hand!) are back too.

What’s disturbing is the way that the new client has been done. It behaves like the old Outlook Express and looks like the new Windows Live things do, with some noteable exceptions, of course.

Key Points:

  • The “Active Search” thing is just a politically correct way of saying, “Advertisements” or “My-search-engine-is-really-cool”.

  • The Thing will not come on unless you sign up with The Thing’s webpage on
  • The Thing will also not come on unless you’re live on the Internet and can sign in to your Windows Live ID account. (Yes that’s just another name for ye good Ole’ Passport, but Live is the new way to go).
  • No Toolbars. None. C’mon, it’s a rich client application made by Microsoft. No Toolbars makes me feel like I’m using something neanderthal.
  • Oh, and the much touted RSS feature requires you to have IE7 installed to even access it.

The client prominently shows and tells you that MS have just rebranded Outlook Express. And done it pretty shabbily too. Most Window icons show the Outlook Express icon, and seeing that icon really brings up some not-so-pleasant memories. The welcome mail that appears in my mailbox comes from an email address that should have been changed or at least aliased a long time ago. Yes, the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta team is proud to receive its mail at [email protected]. Anyone figured out what the msoe in that email address stands for, yet? Yes, it stands for MicroSoft Outlook Express.

I’d suggest giving the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta a pass, this beta at least. Maybe they’ll learn and put up a better beta soon. If you still want it, go to and sign up for the beta.

Music? Died?
Constant Readers by now know my propensity to make oblique references. The title for this post is my reference to the tragedy where 3 of the time’s greatest American Rock and Roll music idols (Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and JP Richardson) died together in a single plane crash.

The reference stems from my thinking that software creators should take the most pride in their creations. And the MSOE team should be pretty much dying of shame right now.

I think I’ll go and listen to Don McLean’s American Pie, for some time.

2 thoughts on “The Day the Music Died”

  1. All of this keeps me wondering … what the hell is the real strategy behind all of this that Microsoft is doing … you know … joining the whole web2.0 beta software bandwagon, continuously delaying vista… and going back on promises. I dont think they have totally gone stupid or something … a successful organisation so big cant get stupid over night can they?

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