Windows 8 Mail App: Better, but Still Bad

by Steve Wildstrom   |   October 5th, 2012

Screen shotThe good news is that the lame Mail app in Windows 8 is about to get better. The bad news is that it will still fall well short of any reasonable expectations of a modern mail client.

As the Oct. 26 ship date of Windows 8 approaches, Microsoft has announced new versions of many of the key Metro (since Microsoft still hasn’t given us a better name for them) apps. The new features of Mail are described in the screen grab on the right: message threading, better IMAP support, proper handling of calendar invitations, and better search. The new app hasn’t actually rolled out yet, so I couldn’t test how well it delivers on these promises. But even if these new features are very good, they only nudge mail closer to marginal acceptability.

The biggest missing item remains a consolidated inbox for all your accounts. Also missing are such abilities as saving searches into smart mailboxes, message sorting, and the ability to flag messages.

This is important because at least in Windows RT, which means on all ARM-based tablets including Surface, this is the mail program you are going to have to use. It’s possible that third-party mail apps will emerge soon, but as of now there are none in the Windows App Store. For anyone who considers email important, and that is still an awful lot of people, that puts RT tablets at a significant disadvantage to the iPad, whose mail app is quite good, and Android, whose mail app is not so great, but still a lot better than this.

 

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.
  • Mike

    Bad? I would say appalling! You can’t add a contact from a received email (without writing their details down and adding manually via the People App). Attaching a photo is difficult and long winded and fails to allow any resizing of the image! No drag and drop to move emails. It really is so poor by comparison to the Apple IOS email I can’t understand what Microsoft were thinking about or doing during very long the Windows 8 development process!

  • Roy

    It’s Feb 2013 as I write this… and I ended up here after searching for “better windows 8 mail client”.

    This ‘app’ is crap. Perhaps it has a place on a cheap tablet, but as a primary email communications tool on a high-end notebook it’s a joke, Mr. Gates. (Yes, I know you’d like me to buy Outlook too).

    Generally, my user experience so far (Vista –> Win8) leaves me flat. I’m not sure I would even call it an upgrade.

    • steve_wildstrom

      And if you are on Windows RT, you don’t have the option of Outlook (or as near as I can tell, any option other than web mail.)

  • Olly

    I’m in the process of fighting with Windows Mail at the moment. The way it handles multiple email accounts I quite like actually. The things I don’t like include: Random crashes, poor performance, and that it won’t let you open more than 1 email at once. It seems their goal with Windows 8 is to lose the plural in Windows.

  • frabjous

    so frustrated with these windows 8 apps. please somebody – develop something better than the morons at Microsoft! why can I not manage MY information? you did develop outlook right? why wouldn’t your mail app work the same?

  • sean kearney

    Windows 8 mail is utter crap. It keeps bleating on about the format of my mail and refuses to send it even when I have entered a valid email address. Worse still you have to right click on the bottom of the screen to perform simple functions like copy and paste. Extra effort for little gain. As soon as my postgrad studies are done I’m dumping these idiots and moving to Ubuntu.