Gmail & Thunderbird IMAP Goodness

Is nicely explained by the Lifehacker crew. It’s not the exact setup I use, but the main point is the same.

Upon reflection, one of the fascinating consequences of GMail using IMAP (which, by the way, is a very significant technical achievement, as IMAP, while a very powerful protocol, is also very hard to implement in a scalable way) is that people can now get free email with an IMAP server. This is important not just for power-users like the Lifehackers, but also for people using smartphones (iPhone, Treos, etc.). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other major webmail providers coming out with IMAP support as well. We may see yet see IMAP get its fair market share.

For many, IMAP support turns GMail into a high-performance mail server with spam filtering, which by the way can be used with a web front-end — as opposed to what it was last week: a webmail system with POP access.

This email world is a lot more fluid than people realize.

6 thoughts on “Gmail & Thunderbird IMAP Goodness”

  1. > people can now get free email with an IMAP server.

    Is this new? I used to have a free IMAP account with graffiti.net for years, dating back to the 90s. Surely they can’t have been the only ones.

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  2. Jim — I guess I should have phrased it as “the number of people who end up with IMAP accounts will grow dramatically”. The point I’m trying to make is that while the technology has been available for a long time, things like market share and changes that affect millions of users can make the technology much more relevant to the industry.

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  3. > > people can now get free email with an IMAP server.

    > Is this new? I used to have a free IMAP account with graffiti.net for years, dating back to the 90s. Surely they can’t have been the only ones.

    Nope. Even AOL has had IMAP for years. Before aol.com was free, you could use a netscape.com or aim.com address with IMAP.

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