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The New Mail.Com Webmail Client

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Ahhhh, spring is here! The warmer weather (in some parts of the country) has nudged blossoms out of their buds and filled the boulevards with petals. Snow is melting, birds are chirping, the boughs of our lemon tree are heavy with fruit and another new webmail client has arrived as if by stork courtesy of Mail.com.

Some of you may or may not remember but Mail.com was recently on our blog as having a major deliverability challenge during the hand-off from AOL to United Internet. The delivery problems appear to be sorted out (but keep reading… ) so now its onward and upward with a sleek new interface.

The Old Webmail Client

The legacy Mail.com email client featured a left and right navigation bar. The icons on the right of the list view and preview pane would spawn a column to the right of the icons with options like AIM login if you clicked on the icon. The preview pane was a fixed bottom pane that you could adjust the height or hide it all together. Other forms of standard navigation, spam folder, trash etc, were contained in the left hand navigation column.

The New Mail.com Webmail Client

The new Mail.com webmail client has some interesting developments that are more “under the hood” rather than on the surface. However, the new skin is a welcome change that features a standardized left side navigation.

  • The icons that were like apps on the right are now contained on the left and there’s no column spawning on the right that changes the width of the list and preview pane.
  • The default preview pane position is more like Outlook 2007 (right hand side) than the preview pane of the older client which was only bottom oriented more like Outlook 2003. The new client’s preview pan is customizable.
  • The right hand tower graphic is new so marketers haven’t really gained more real estate. The column that would’ve been eaten up by the app icons on the right is actually expanded so in a sense it’s a slightly loss of space. However the overall arrangement does seem a bit cleaner.
  • A new tabbing feature allows you to open multiple emails whereas the old client would only allow 1 message to be opened in the full message view.
  • Images are still OFF by default for emails in the inbox and spam folder.
  • The trend toward message agnosticism is visible in the mail collector feature which allows users to pop messages from other email clients, addresses and domains into their mail.com webmail in addition to the integration of Facebook.
  • Here’s where we pop open the hood: there’s a new folder, Quarantine, which appears to be specifically designed to “catch” virus infected emails. If you dig into the HELP materials you will find that Mail.com is using Symantec to help protect the inbox from sending and receiving virus infected messages.
  • The Spam folder, and its help page, boast 7 leading technologies that will help mitigate annoying spam from hitting your inbox but they’re wisely not listed.
  • The new email client has a “blacklist” and “whitelist” for users to input emails and domains to block or blanket allow into their inboxes.
  • There’s a pattern matcher that can be reset, in case your email client gets too smart for its own good.
  • Here’s where things get a little fuzzy…

I sent the same message to two different accounts: 1 was an older account we had that was still the old email client and I opened a brand new account that defaulted to the new email client. The email had two different dispositions when it arrived at “mail.com” The older client placed the email in the spam folder while the new client placed it in the inbox. In both cases images were disabled. I sat there a little dumbfounded and then decided to take a look at the full headers to see if there was some discrepancy and boy is there:

Legacy Webmail Client

X-AOL-UID: 4206.25225272
DKIM-Signature
DomainKey-Signature:
X-PV01: 000111-000183
X-Y-GMX-Trusted: 0
x-aol-global-disposition: G
X-AOL-SCOLL-AUTHENTICATION: mail_rly_antispam_dkim-m006.1 ; domain : mtsobek.messages2.com DKIM : pass
x-aol-sid: 3039ac1d411d4d93a3c70c7a
X-AOL-IP: 74.208.5.90
X-AOL-SPF: domain : bounce.p2.rm02.net SPF : fail
X-Mailer: Unknown (No Version)

New Webmail Client

X-DKIM-Authentication-Results:
X-Priority: 3
X-User: 370
X-Mailer: phpmailer [version 1.65]
X-GMX-Antivirus: 0 (no virus found)
X-GMX-Antispam: 0 (Mail was not recognized as spam);
Detail=5D7Q89H36p4mDiy9f0E2dflpvNHSSr/CXLeaBViEIa+MpDZqZnWarK2J3jqB0DEOiQOZ6
OAg1E+Q9BmfH1Ko+FIcJQiweGiqVTgGTY3UDj9gf1MB03eEFabGZkPog2HC68MLejG47SSvciP0J
xCdvZeeHy4gHEgFV1;
X-GMX-UID: OTg2SUdVNUQ2OaVKuXNuR9BIN9h8LUIi
X-Flags: 0401

I’ve redacted the headers to “protect the innocent.” The routing information wasn’t truly relevant to what I wanted to highlight: the old webmail client is still utilizing AOL’s backend and the new webmail client is fully using the GMX back end thus the filtering and disposition of emails will be different. This is potentially a significant finding for marketers that have large populations of mail.com users in their house files. Although users can change the disposition of messages and tweak their security settings I’m willing to bet that the average web surfer is oblivious to these things and just assumes their ISP will take care of it for them.

What we can deduce for certain is that the new webmail client is verifying email authentication signatures and encoding what looks like a hash of verification results in the received headers. Our advice here would be to keep an eye and look for spikes in spam folder placement or drops in click activity among your mail.com audience. A significant drop could mean that your IP has a significantly different reputation at GMX/United Internet vs. what it had at AOL and you may need to work through deliverability remediation with the new owners of Mail.com.

Cheers!
-Len Shneyder
Sr. Product Marketing Mgr.
IBM | Unica | Pivotal Veracity

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KP

What I hated most about the old client is that the From and Subject lines were always blurry and hard to read.

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Len Shneyder

I couldn’t agree more! I mean look what a few new divs, gradients and rounded corners do for clarity! :->

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