ISSUE 439: THE HIGH-TECH OFFICE
Qualcomm's latest version of Eudora e-mailer
offers everything needed to stay connected - March 24 1998
Businesses dealing with heavy competition have
to find a way to make their products stand out. While lower prices and
flashy packaging help, it's good to have some steak behind the sizzle
-- an approach adopted by many software developers who compete by
creating products with ever more features and functions.
I'm sure many of you have used Qualcomm's
Eudora Internet mail program. Qualcomm, a San Diego company primarily
involved in digital wireless hardware (PCS cell phones, OmniTracs
satelLight communications and tracking system, and more), initially
developed Eudora as free e-mail software for Macintosh. The company
later added versions for Windows 3.1, Windows 95/NT and even the Apple
Newton. It also created a more feature-rich Eudora Pro version, while
continuing to improve the free Eudora Light version.
Qualcomm now claims to have more than 18 million
users, an impressive number aided by the distribution of the free
version by many Internet Service Providers. But with capable mail
software included with both Netscape and Microsoft's
Web browsers, what's a company simply trying to sell e-mail software to
Qualcomm is rising to the challenge. It recently
released new and improved versions of Eudora Pro, bringing the product
up to version 4.0. At the same time, it's packed in enough features to
justify calling it a suite -- Eudora Pro CommCenter -- while dropping
the price to about $59.
The new version takes away what was the main
competitive advantage of the Netscape and Microsoft mail programs --
the ability to send HTML Web pages as e-mail, complete with graphics
and layout options. Eudora had looked drab and old-fashioned, with
plain-text e-mail. Version 4 finally catches up with HTML support.
At the same time, it continues to offer powerful
features not available in the browser add-in mail programs: easy to
customize filters, for example, to sort and automate your mail;
multiple "personalities," invaluable to users who juggle more than one
e-mail address; integrated encryption, based on the Pretty Good Privacy
standard, to ensure your messages' privacy.
You can even send and receive voice messages attached
to your mail, though only when communicating to other Eudora users.
The CommCenter version goes beyond e-mail, however,
trying to become your one-stop communications centre. It adds a
collection of add-in programs to the e-mail core (which is still
available as a separate, lower-priced product). Most of these build on
third-party software and services which are included as free trial
versions. For example, using the JFax program, you can set up a virtual
office account in any of 25 cities worldwide, where fax and voice
messages will be automatically rerouted to your Eudora message-box.
Similarly, a variety of Internet-based news and information services
can be set up to deliver directly to your mailbox. Other add-ins
include iChat, for real-time Internet chat and TimeShift Conference
Call for net-based phone conferences and paging. Note that you'll have
to pay to continue any of these services beyond the varying length free
trials provided by the CommCenter package.
The Light version (still in version 3) remains freely
available, while the Pro version is available as a 30-day free demo at www.eudora.com.
Qualcomm is also joining the host of companies (HotMail, Yahoo
and more) offering free, browser-based e-mail with their new Web-Mail
service. Here, you get an e-mail address on their server. Advertising
keeps it a free service, which you can access from any computer with a
Web browser -- from an airport kiosk or an Internet caf?, for example.
April, for many of us, is the cruelest time of
year -- when the coming of spring is counterbalanced by the need to
file tax returns.
Lots of companies offer tax-preparation software,
among them Calgary-based CanTax (now owned by Softkey
Software Products). They are probably best known for CanTax 98,
this year's version of their standard personal tax-return software
(about $39). They also sell The Canadian Tax Tutor, a product that
tries to go one step further. While you can use the Tax Tutor software
for help preparing your return, it really aims to help you learn about
the Canadian tax system, with an eye towards planning and organization
before tax season hits, to pay less on future returns.
The software, developed in conjunction with the Evelyn
Jacks Institute, offers a dozen lessons ranging from RRSP planning
to charitable donations, medical expenses and child care. The goal of
the software is to make tax planning play a major role in wealth
creation. The software sports an apt motto: What the taxman taketh, the
software can help giveth back (1-800-265-4800; www.cantax.com).*