Outlook Express is a reasonably nice email, newsgroup and contacts client. One of best things about this program is fact that it is free - if, of course, you install Internet Explorer on your system.
Let's start with positive things about this program. The email client is on a par with most other email clients. You can do just about anything that you would ever desire, including creating maintaining email accounts, receiving messages, replying, forwarding, and so on.
One of real benefits to Outlook Express is ability to create identities. I don't know about you, but I have several email accounts. Using standard Outlook 2000 client all of messages from all of accounts get thrown together in one list (my understanding is that Outlook XP fixes this, but who wants to install such a piece of garbage as Office XP on their system?) Outlook express allows you to create more-or-less separate, well, everything for each and every email account (if you so desire). This way, all of contacts, inbox, sendbox and so on are totally unique to account.
The newsgroup reader is standard, online type. This was first newsgroup reader that I ever used, and it meets most of requirements of anyone doing light to medium reading and posting. Other, far better newsgroup clients now exist, however, so Outlook Express cannot be recommended based upon newsgroup client alone.
Contacts are handled in a more or less standard way. You've got a list of contacts, and you can add their mailing information as needed. The contact can be defined directly from an email message, which is a nice touch.
The rule engine in Outlook Express probably was considered advanced many years ago, but by today's standards it is mundane. However, it can be used to block spam, file away messages and perform autoreplies.
A feature which is really cool is called Email Stationary. One of best features about Outlook Express is built-in stationary editor. It's not super-sophisticated, but it does job of creating simple and intermediate stationary files very well.
Okay, now for negatives about this product. I can sum up biggest negative in just one sentence:
The reason why viruses such as Melissa, Iloveyou and like exist and thrive is proliferation of Outlook and Outlook Express.
You see, Outlook Express (and it's big brother Outlook) support email scripting. Other email clients do allow you to execute programs and scripts, but very few of them allow email client itself to be invoked from script or executable. Why is this a problem?
Here's an example. Read and execute a virus in a different email client and you could wipe out your own system. Read same virus in Outlook Express (or Outlook) and you can additionally automatically (and often without your knowledge) send that virus to everyone you've ever communicated with on email.