Free Email – Does it still work?

  OK. I have to admit. I have 1 hotmail, 1 and 2 accounts. I also have an account for each website I own and 1 for each website I administer. That’s a lot of ….Recently I saw a new site pop up in the area and they were offering “Free ”. It got me to thinking about all the free plans that we saw so many years ago. I also started to wonder – is a free a good thing, or just a way to get more spam?

Email has been around since 1961 when created CTSS to give users the ability to communicate on the IBM 7094. brought the email “From/To” configuration into play. brought the “At the rate of”, or @ symbol to use by separating name from domain in 1971.Since then, email has been enhanced through encryption and MIME encoding, to name a couple.  

My first email address was for work. My first free address was on hotmail. I was a real supporter of back then so I created that email address. That was over 10 years ago. I still have that email address and it’s a major facet of all “non-critical” email. So, for example, let’s say I was to sign up for some really cool email magazine. I would most likely use my hotmail address.

I got my first Yahoo address because I wanted to get on Yahoo Instant Messenger. I had that one for 2 years, but then wanted to change the email address name, so I created a second Yahoo email. I lost the password for the first email and when I tried to retrieve it, the birthday didn’t match what I told them – which meant that I didn’t set up the birthday in the settings. Yahoo would not get me another password for that email address, which I was totally fine with because I wanted to use the other address anyway.

The Gmail address came late in the game as I was getting upset with Yahoo and I wanted to have an email for Geekazine that the general public could use. Therefore I set up [email protected] as well as my alternate email which would ultimately replace the Yahoo email.

In the 15 years on the web, I would guess I have had about 40-50 email addresses. Some from company contracts that wanted a contact email for me, to websites I created, then shut down and even to “test” emails – where I could test out a product or service without using my email address to get spammed til the rest of time.

Still, I go back to this web site. Where is a free email address helpful in this day and age? Is it a selling point or is it more hassle?

Email is slowly evolving to something else. The reality is email will integrate in Unified communications. You will have your faxes and voicemails over an email, then they will notify your primary email address while simultaneously IMing your phone. Pretty cool stuff. I should know – I already have it.

Whether you use Skype or another IP phone system, it will be prevalent that Unified Communications will slowly start to take over. Email will be more than just a one or two  kilobyte message. You will get video messages, audio messages, notifications, faxes and a whole host more.

SightSpeed is a company that works on the Video front. GrandCentral is a Google page that lets you get a free phone number to use to either set up as a voicemail box, or a call forwarding device so initial clients do not have your personal voice line.

Think you only have one or two email addresses? Think again. There are other types of email out there: If you have MySpace or Facebook, then you have an “Inbox”. If you are a member of a SMB, YABB, PHPBB or other bulletin board, you have one. If you have a cell phone, you have another email address. Usually it’s [email protected]. Try it: Send an IM to your email address and see what happens.

It’s no wonder that Spam increases yearly. We get more inboxes than what we can do with. And what is worse is we ask for it.

After all, what REALLY is email? Well, in its crudest form, email is a database holding an email address, contact information, a from address and their contact information and finally the message which contains a subject, the message body, any attachments, v-card info and other cool stuff that your email provider thinks of.

Incorporated in MySpace or Facebook, it’s a place for your approved friends to email you from.  Incorporated in a mobile phone, it’s an Instant messaging unit. However pretty the packaging is – it is still email in one way, shape or form.

Email has been a help and a hindrance to the common IT administrator.  According to Yahoo News, 50 percent of companies fire workers for some type of internet abuse – low productivity, email misuse or just simply trying to view inappropriate material. More importantly, some sites or email invite Malware into the workspace. Some companies decide – or are forced – to block email and certain areas of the web. They also put limits on the size of email – mostly because of how powerful the Melissa virus was.

Right now I still have way too many email addresses. Email will grow and evolve. I expect email will go through a transformation – 1 side will handle the “IM”ing side and the other will be Unified Communications. As for the new site with the “Free Email”, I wish them well. Maybe they will be the next Yahoo or Google? Only time will tell.

Oh yeah. And I don’t think we’ll ever have an “Email Stamp”. So there is no need to forward that email.

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