Mozilla 1.0 Not Ready for Prime Time -- Close but No Cigar and No Brass Ring!
Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite's E-Mail & News Quick Look
Mike Angelo -- 27 July 2002 (c)
The Mozilla E-Mail and News module supports SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), POP3 (Post Office Protocol), IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), and NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol). It also does a nice job of supporting multiple e-mail accounts and identities.
The Mozilla 1.0 browser suite includes four main modules -- (1) the browser or Navigator, (2) an E-Mail and News client, (3) Composer (a WYSIWG, HTML word processor and Web page authoring tool), and (4) ChatZilla an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client. The Mozilla Web browser is the primary component of the Mozilla 1 browser suite. The E-Mail and News client draws on Composer for writing and editing e-mail messages and newsgroup posts.
The cross-platform (XP) Mozilla browser-suite software is designed to run on several operating system platforms including, inter alia, the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms.
The Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite was released to the public on 5 June 2002. It was in the works for more than four calendar-years and for more than 1,000 person-years. Nevertheless, even after those long, four, calendar-years of chronological time and more than 1,000 person-years of aggregated developer-time, Mozilla was not 1.0 material at the time of the 5 June 2002 Mozilla 1.0 release. Releasing Mozilla as a 1.0 product on 5 June was premature and counterproductive.
Overview of the Mozilla E-Mail and News Client
The Mozilla E-Mail and News client has many nice features and can be quite useful. Figure 1, below, is a screen shot of the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail client running on Red Hat Linux 7.2.
However, as with the other Mozilla 1.0 component modules, the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News client lacks polish. Moreover, there are too many bugs, annoyances, and issues that come along with the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News client.
All these problems taken together make the Mozilla E-Mail and News client not exactly 1.0 material. Moreover, as discussed throughout this article, these problems lead us to conclude that the Qualcomm Eudora 5.1.1 e-mail client (paid version) for Microsoft Windows and the KDE KMail e-mail client for Linux are better choices than the Mozilla e-mail client.
Perhaps the most outstanding Mozilla E-Mail and News feature is the handling of multiple mail accounts and alias mail accounts. Mozilla E-Mail works with both POP3 (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), although we have tested Mozilla E-Mail in POP3 mode only.
The most noticeable and perhaps most annoying Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News issue is there is no included spell-checker for the E-Mail and News Composer (text editor). The Mozilla Organization had more than four calendar-years and more than 1,000 person-years to add a spell-checker for use with the Mozilla E-Mail and News Composer (text editor). There is no excuse for there not being a spell-checker included with Mozilla 1.0.
There are third party spell-checkers that can be added-on to Mozilla 1.0 after you download and install it. But you should not have to hunt around for a spell-checker and then add it on to Mozilla 1.0 after you have installed Mozilla. Other popular E-Mail and News client software such as Microsoft Outlook and Qualcomm Eudora for Windows (Figure 2, below) or KMail and KNode for Linux (Figure 3, below) come with spell-checking capability -- and so should the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News client come with a spell-checker!
The Mozilla E-Mail and News Address Book has its very own version of the onerous Mozilla Sidebar annoyance, the oingo history-tab bug. In the Mozilla Address Book version of the oingo history-tab bug, opening the Address Book can cause the oingo.com page to be downloaded to your Web browser -- more about that on Page 4.
The Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite overall is premature, lacks 1.0 quality and polish, and is not ready for prime time. Our conclusion that Mozilla 1.0 is immature and not ready for prime time comes about primarily because of the many bugs, annoyances, and other issues in Mozilla 1.0 and its many performance problems. These bugs, annoyances, and other issues are covered here as to the e-mail and news module and in more detail elsewhere in MozillaQuest Magazine's comprehensive Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite coverage as to other Mozilla browser-suite components.
Moreover, just as there are other browsers that are at least as good as, if not better than, the Mozilla browser; there also are other e-mail and news clients that are at least as good as, if not better than, the Mozilla E-Mail and News client. For example, all things considered, the Eudora 5.1.1 e-mal client software for Microsoft Windows (paid for mode) seems a better choice than the Mozilla 1.0 e-mail client software -- even though it costs $40. For Linux, the K Desktop (KDE) KMail e-mail client appears to be at least as good as Mozilla E-Mail and the KNode news client is an acceptable newsgroup client.
Eudora 5.1.1 (paid mode) has a spell checker and can block HTML HTTP Requests from being generated when e-mail is opened. Likewise, KDE's KMail has a spell checker and can open HTML pages in a text/source mode thus blocking HTML HTTP Requests originating from opened e-mail. Mozilla 1.0 has neither of these features. The Mozilla Organization plans to add these features to later Mozilla E-Mail editions -- but they are not in Mozilla 1.0!
There does not seem to be much, if anything, in the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News module that is particularly unique or original. There is no compelling need to chose the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News client over other such clients if you are looking for e-mail or newsgroup client software, or to switch to Mozilla if you already have an E-Mail and/or News client that works for you.
In Linux, KDE's KMail mail client is at least as good as the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail client, plus it has a spell checker -- a very big plus indeed. KDE's KNode newsgroups client is acceptable -- although perhaps not as good as the Mozilla News client, except KNode's composer has a spell-checker whereas Mozilla's News Composer does not have a spell checker. In MS Windows, the Eudora 5.1.1 (paid mode) e-mail client is superior to the Mozilla E-Mail 1.0 client, plus it has a spell checker.
This is not un-similar to what we found with the Mozilla 1.0 browser in our Mozilla 1.0 Browser Quick Look. There we concluded that there is no compelling reason to choose the Mozilla 1.0 browser over the KDE Konqueror Web-browser and file-manager for the Linux platform and there is no compelling reason to choose the Mozilla 1.0 browser over the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Stilesoft NetCaptor browser for the MS Windows operating systems (OS).
AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization and Mozilla Project produce the Mozilla browser-suite. The Mozilla browser-suite is built on top of the multi-platform Mozilla Application Programming Framework (APF).
This review focuses on the Mozilla E-Mail and News modules. The Mozilla Application Programming Framework, Mozilla Web browser (Navigator), and other Mozilla browser-suite components are covered elsewhere.
Bugs across the Mozilla Browser-Suite
The many bugs, annoyances, and issues present in Mozilla 1.0 are not all necessarily unique to a particular Mozilla browser-suite module. In part that is because some Mozilla browser-suite components are included and/or operate across the entire suite or at least several browser-suite modules. This is particularly the case with user-interface (UI) components.
For example, the Mozilla Sidebar is part of the Navigator (browser) module, the E-Mail and News module, and the Composer module. These three modules pretty much share the same basic user interface (UI) and therefore share UI bugs, annoyances, and issues that run across the Mozilla browser suite. The Mozilla Mail and News module inherits many of the bugs, annoyances, and issues that plague the Mozilla browser user interface.
You will see the bugs and issues across the Mozilla browser-suite tragedy unfold further down. For example, as the story unfolds you will see some of the same bugs, annoyances, and issues that we reported in the Mozilla Browser review rearing their ugly heads in the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News module too.
The Mozilla browser-suite IRC chat client module, ChatZilla, does not have the same user interface that the browser, mail-news, and composer modules share. So, it does not inherit many Mozilla browser-suite common UI bugs, annoyances, and issues.
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