by Mark H. Anbinder, Contributing Editor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical Support Coordinator, BAKA Computers
Late last month, CE Software released a long-awaited upgrade to its popular QuickMail software. Version 2.6, available to 2.5 or 2.5.1 owners for $40, has three primary areas of enhancements: server architecture, administrator tools, and a new Windows client. At the same time, CE announced the "QuickMail Connect Now" program, and StarNine Technologies announced a new version of their QuickMail-to-SMTP gateway and a brand-new gateway between QuickMail and Banyan's Vines mail system.
In designing QuickMail 2.6 CE focused on improving their mail server architecture, which has been criticized as being unreliable in large internetwork environments. The company has gone a long way towards eliminating problems with its "single-file" approach, which was introduced in version 2.5. This feature allowed the QuickMail server to keep only a single copy of mail to multiple recipients, but versions 2.5 and 2.5.1 would occasionally "forget" to delete that single file once all references to it were gone. CE also improved zone-list handling, especially in large internetworks where zones tend to come and go.
To make the software more "administrator-friendly," CE created a server monitor feature within its QM Administrator application, allowing the system administrator to track peak usage and the server's load. The administrator may also now move a user's mailbox from one mailcenter to another, or even from one mail server to another, without losing any mail. In addition, a new Mail Authentication Tool can create verified backups of the server's mailboxes, while discarding unnecessary "orphaned" mail files. We conducted experiments on two busy servers and found that as many as two-thirds of the files on the server were unnecessary; on one server, the Mail Authentication Tool eliminated seven thousand files, dramatically improving server performance and freeing space.
For the first time, CE is providing a Windows client application, which was originally expected to ship with version 2.5. The result was worth the wait. The new software combines the friendly feel of QuickMail with a proper Windows interface - rather than, as is often the case, a Macintosh program ported to Windows but retaining Macintosh conventions. Unfortunately, QuickMail for Windows does not support AppleTalk connections to the mail server; it only allows file-based access involving a file server available to the workstation and the mail server.
CE dramatically improved its DOS client software (for both AppleTalk and file-based connections), and made minor modifications to the Macintosh client. The most obvious change to the Macintosh software is the "Turnerizing." The new version sports color control icons and color "About Box" displays. Unfortunately, the color icons take a step further away from the traditional Macintosh look and feel, and worse, they serve as a cruel reminder of the absence of the complete interface colorization that CE should have undertaken. Forms do not offer color pictures or text labels, and users cannot select colors for message text, as so many other mail programs offer these days.
Despite the disappointing Macintosh client software, the 2.6 upgrade is worthwhile, and certainly worth CE's nominal upgrade fee. To convince skeptics, CE is offering a free five-user "QuickMail Connect Now" installation to sites that don't use QuickMail. Similar to the company's "QuicKeys Test Drive," which allows resellers to let customers try the software before buying it, the QuickMail Connect Now offer allows resellers to install the QuickMail software without charge to the customer, who can use QuickMail for a while and decide whether or not to buy a full package. Unlike the QuicKeys Test Drive, the QuickMail Connect Now software doesn't expire after a while, but is missing some features, such as remote access and certain administration tools. Anyone who's interested should contact their favorite CE Software dealer. (CE can point you to one if you call.)
StarNine Technologies hopped on CE's new version bandwagon, announcing last Monday that it will ship version 2.2 of its Mail*Link SMTP package, an Internet gateway for QuickMail, by the end of this month. The new version, free to current users, provides "certified" support for QuickMail 2.6, and several other enhancements. StarNine's new Mail*Link for Vines/QM will replace Banyan's own MacVines gateway at the end of this month. MacVines users may convert for a discount, and pricing for new sites starts at $595 for ten users.
CE Software, Inc. -- 515/224-1995
StarNine Technologies, Inc. -- 510/649-4949
CE & StarNine propaganda