This page is for Outlook users, (Not Outlook Express). It includes some information regarding winmail.dat files and was prompted by questions from a customer using "another" E-Mail client. Just in case you didn't know, not everyone uses Outlook, and some computer users can't use it or won't for any number of reasons.
Whatever software you use probably does the job you need it to do. That's great, but some users are unaware of other software options, that could possibly do a better job. Since people are familiar with what they use, most wouldn't want to change even if they knew of a better, possibly more efficient way to get their work done. That's human nature.
Such is frequently the case with Outlook. There are many millions of people who only want to effectively send - receive and manage their mail and that's it. In some of those cases there may very well be better and less complex programs than Outlook that will get the job done, well. For example:
Pegasus Mail has long been recognized as a power user's mail client. (free)
Eudora (formerly by Qualcomm but now in the public domain),is a very popular mail client and has long been favored by magazine editors and professional writers. (free)
Many people actually prefer Outlook Express over Outlook because it has a less complex user interface and actually performs some functions that Outlook 2002, 2003 and even 2007 don't. (comes with Windows XP for free)
Incredimail is a very popular program with people who want to send out very fancy E-Mail messages. (commercial software)
Thunderbird is a part of the Mozilla project and likely one of the most popular E-Mail clients available. It junk mail (SPAM), controls that work very well. (free)
There are actually quite a number of enterprise users who use Lotus Notes for their E-Mail, long a venerable mail client for remote users as well as in-house mail.
So what do ALL these and dozens of other mail client programs have in common? None of them understand, translate or decode the attachments frequently sent by Outlook users who have mis-configured Outlook. Click here for a Google search for winmail.dat problems for examples.
The winmail.dat file is seen as an attachment by all of those mail clients and none can read the contents. For the most part the only people unaware of winmail.dat as an attachment are other Outlook users, (because Outlook is the ONLY mail client program that understands how to read that file as a default format.) There are WEB mail services that can translate that attachment, Google's Gmail being the most popular, but not everyone uses WEB mail. (Additional note: though this primarily pertains to public companies falling under Sarbanes Oxley regulations, most companies have restrictions on the use of any external mail client or WEB mail from a company owned computer and for good reason. This leaves the end user to come up with some other solution when they receive these files they can't read, blame Enron, among others for the added regulations).
I have heard people suggest that the person receiving the attachments was doing something wrong and some have suggested that they start using Outlook to stop the problem. Well, the problem is the Outlook user's not the other way around. And the fix is quick and simple though there are a couple options.
I have had people ask me to install software that would allow them to read, (decode), those winmail.dat files, but wait, why should they be forced to go through several extra steps to read a file that didn't need to have been sent. Rather than provide a long explanation let me direct you to this Microsoft page that explains how to fix it. -- And also this Microsoft page Note that in some mail client software the files come across as att00000(xxx) or files that look like they have eml extensions but the causes are the same and the fix is simple. Note that this problem is not limited to Outlook 2007 as someone suggested but virtually all versions of Outlook,.( NOT Outlook Express!) There is also this link aptly called dealing with winmail.dat.
I love this first entry from an Apple forum. and it says it all. On another note. If someone is using a version of Linux or Unix, or they are using open source software for their document processing, they are among the people who do not or cannot use Outlook. This problem with the attachments seems to be more frequent when Exchange Server is being used to manage the mail. The need for the rather large infrastructure and support expense of using Exchange Server is disappearing for some smaller companies. Scheduling, calendars, (group and private), and much more, are available for free from several sources on the WEB.
If you have read this and someone says they can't open some winmail file you sent, don't lay the blame on them. If someone tells you nobody else is having a problem, they don't understand the problem or the fact that some people just ignore that winmail.dat file altogether since most of the time it's a duplication of the mail contents.
End of rant
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