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If I had to guess, I'd say that the application you use most often isn't your word processor, spreadsheet or database. My bet is, it's your e-mail program. No doubt e-mail consumes your day, or at least tries to. Besides e-mail from all your friends and colleagues, you're subjected to junk mail from just about anywhere on the planet. If the U.S. government could tax e-mail, we'd probably pay off the national debt in a couple of days.
I can't help you hide from all that e-mail, but I can help you deal with it more efficiently by improving Microsoft Exchange's performance.
Lesson One: If you're thinking about switching from Exchange to Outlook, wait a while and upgrade Exchange instead. Outlook still suffers from too many bugs.
When Windows 95 first came along, it included an e-mail program called Microsoft Exchange, along with a selection of service providers that enabled Exchange to connect to various e-mail servers. Windows 95 had service providers for Microsoft Mail, Microsoft Fax and CompuServe Mail. The Plus package for Windows 95 included an Internet Mail service provider that enabled Microsoft Exchange to send and receive Internet mail through a POP3 mail server.
As useful as it was, Microsoft Exchange suffered from the bugs that plague most new software products. Exchange took a long time to load and transferred files slowly. Microsoft addressed these problems with an update to Exchange. It also changed the name of the e-mail client from Microsoft Exchange to Windows Messaging. The name change made it easier to tell the Windows 95 messaging client from the Microsoft Exchange Server and related services.
The Windows Messaging update is intended for the Microsoft Exchange client provided with Windows 95, and the Exchange Server client is designed specifically for connecting to a Microsoft Exchange Server mail system. If you're using the Microsoft
Exchange client included with Windows 95, you should acquire and install the Windows Messaging update. If nothing else, the significant decrease in load time and file-transfer times will make it worthwhile. However, if you connect with Exchange to a Microsoft Exchange Server mail system, stick with your existing Exchange Server client.
You can find the Windows Messaging update on Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/software/exupd.htm. If you subscribe to Microsoft Technet, you should have the update on your Technet CDs. If not, be ready for a sizable download. The update file, EXUPDUSA.EXE, is just over 3MB. It includes a revised Internet Mail provider, so you don't need to download one separately.
After you download the update, close Microsoft Exchange. Then, double-click on the EXUPDUSA.EXE file to install the update. The process is automatic and requires no input from you. All you need to do is reboot your computer when the update is complete. The next time you open the Inbox, the splash screen and the Inbox title bar will both read Windows Messaging instead of Microsoft Exchange.
Adding Internet Mail
Previously available separately in the Plus for Windows 95 add-on product and now included in the Windows Messaging update, the Internet Mail service provider integrates your Internet mail in your Inbox. You can retrieve the Internet Mail service provider separately from Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/software/inetmail.htm. At only 235KB, this file is a little easier on the modem than the Windows Messaging update.
After downloading the INETMAIL.EXE file, double-click on the file to install the Internet Mail files. You then need to add the Internet Mail service to your Windows Messaging profile. To do so, close Windows Messaging and open the Control Panel. Double-click on the Mail icon. On the Services property page, click on the Add button. From the list of available services, select Internet Mail and choose OK. A two-page property sheet for the Internet Mail provider will appear.
On the General property page, type your full name in the Full Name text box. In the E-Mail Address text box, enter your complete e-mail address, including the @ sign and your domain name, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next, you need to specify the name of your POP3 mail server and other mail account information. For the server, you enter either an IP address or fully qualified domain name, such as mail.yourdomain. com. If you aren't sure about the server's name, check with your ISP to get the correct name. Enter your mail account name and password in the Account Name and Password text boxes.
You must next indicate how you will connect to your Internet Mail server, so click on the Connection tab. If you connect to the Internet through a LAN, choose the "Connect using the network" option button. If you connect to your ISP through a modem, choose the "Connect using the modem" option button. Then, select your ISP's connection from the list of Dial-Up Networking connections.
In the Connection dialog, you can also set your Internet Mail to check your account for mail automatically. Click on the Schedule button and specify a frequency in minutes at which you want Internet Mail to check for waiting mail and send outgoing mail. You can use this option even if you connect to your mail server through a modem. Internet Mail will dial and connect, perform the mail transfer, then disconnect automatically.
Adding CompuServe Mail
The CompuServe Mail provider for Windows Messaging lets you send and receive e-mail through a CompuServe account. CompuServe Mail 1.1, available for download from CompuServe (GO CSMAIL), supports Winsock. This enables you to use Windows 95's Dial-Up Networking to connect to CompuServe. It also supports a direct connection for computers hardwired to the Internet and fixes a few bugs that manifested themselves in the release originally included with Windows 95. In particular, CompuServe addressed potential connection problems by changing timing values.
After you retrieve CSMAIL.EXE from CompuServe, place the file in its own folder and double-click on it to extract the files. Run SETUP.EXE (one of the files extracted from CSMAIL.EXE) to install the CompuServe Mail provider. Setup will ask if you want to make the CompuServe Mail provider part of your default profile. Choose Yes to have Setup run a wizard that will prompt you to specify your CompuServe account settings. Choose No if you want the CompuServe Mail provider in a different profile. Then double-click the Mail icon in Control Panel and add CompuServe Mail to the desired profile.
One nice feature of the CompuServe Mail provider, other than integrating your CompuServe mail in your Windows 95 Inbox, is its support for automated connections. You can configure CompuServe Mail to automatically retrieve your CompuServe mail at specified intervals or at specific times. To configure automated connection, double-click on the Mail icon in Control Panel, then double-click on the CompuServe Mail item. On the Advanced property page, click on the Schedule Connect Times button. You'll find three options for automated connections and can use all three if you wish (at Inbox startup, at intervals and at a specific time)
Using Remote Mail
The CompuServe, Internet Mail and Microsoft Mail providers all support Remote Mail. Remote Mail lets you preview the message headers of waiting messages, then decide whether or not to download the messages. If someone has a tendency to send you lengthy junk messages, you can delete the message through Remote Mail without ever downloading it. Remote Mail also helps when a message gets "stuck" in your remote mail box and prevents you from retrieving the rest of your messages.
To use Remote Mail, choose Tools/Remote Mail from the Exchange or Windows Messaging menu bar. If you have multiple service providers installed that support Remote Mail, the Remote Mail menu will act as a cascading menu, letting you choose the provider with which you want to work. For Internet Mail, for example, you would choose Tools/Remote Mail/Internet Mail.
Remote Mail uses the same interface regardless of the provider. In the Remote Mail window, click the Connect button or choose Tools/Connect to have Remote Mail connect to the mail server and download your waiting message headers. Remote Mail will disconnect after retrieving the headers. You then can mark the messages for retrieval or deletion. The next time you connect, the messages you have marked will be processed accordingly. If you mark a message for retrieval, Remote Mail transfers the message to your Inbox. If you mark the message for deletion, Remote Mail deletes the message without trying to download it.
Contributing editor Jim Boyce is the author of Upgrading PCs Illustrated (Que, 1997). Contact Jim in the WINDOWS Magazine areas on America Online and CompuServe, or care of the editor at the e-mail addresses here.