How Open Source Email Client Differs from Proprietary Email Client

There are a number of Email client used as a desktop application that enable user to configure one or more than one email accounts to read, receive, compose or send emails through the desktop interface. Nowadays, a huge number of email clients exist in today’s time. As a result, users have unlimited options to choose best from these email clients. Choosing the best email client for one is not an easy task. Therefore, we have decided to help users to choose the right email for them. This write-up will discuss how open source email clients differ than proprietary email clients, how these email clients are different from each other and how can you migrate Outlook to Thunderbird.

What is Open Source Email: In an easy language, open source emails mean emails that are free to use. Users do not have to spend any money to use open source email services. Some of the most popular open source (desktop-based) emails are Mozilla Thunderbird, Roundcube, etc.

What is Proprietary Email Client: The email clients that retain their intellectual property rights over the source code and requires users to pay for the service are called proprietary email clients. Microsoft Outlook, Zimbra, Lotus Notes are the popular example of proprietary email client.

To understand in a better way Here, we will be discussing scenario based on Outlook as a proprietary email client and Thunderbird as an open source email client.

Difference between Open Source Email and Proprietary Email

Open Source Email (Thunderbird) Proprietary Email (Outlook)
Free of cost On payment services
Multiple Platform Support Only supports Windows and Mac
Portable version available Does not work without installation
Available as 64-bit application for all platforms Available as 64-bit application for Windows only
Allows Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) Does not support Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)

How Open Source Email Thunderbird is better than Proprietary Email Outlook

If we compare Thunderbird with Outlook we will see many advantages of Thunderbird over MS Outlook. Here are some of the major points:

  • Cost: Cost is always a matter to consider while using email clients. Why pay to use email service when you can get it for free? Users should use Thunderbird instead of Outlook because of this reason. Especially, if you own an SME, Thunderbird should be your obvious choice.
  • Portability: Thunderbird email is portable. You can install Thunderbird in USB & use it on any system. The minimum size of USB should be of 95mb .On the other hand, Outlook needs to be installed on a particular system to be used.
  • Platform Compatibility: Thunderbird has no issue regarding Operating Systems. It can run on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Unix etc. whereas Outlook support Windows & Mac only.
  • Language and Spelling Support: Thunderbird supports more languages than Outlook. It also provides spellcheck related facilities that are not available in Outlook by default. Users have to buy separate language packs to avail these services.
  • Support for Sending Large Attachments via Web Services: Thunderbird users can send large size attachments as Thunderbird has in-built support for Box and Hightail. Besides, it supports other services via add-ons. On the other hand, Outlook does not offer this service.
  • Facility to have Unified Inbox and Unified Folder: In Thunderbird users can have the facility of unified inbox and unified folder. These are not supported in Outlook.

How to move from Outlook to Thunderbird an Open Source Email Client

As we can see, Thunderbird has a clear upper hand over Outlook in certain ways. For these reasons, Outlook users often switch to Mozilla Thunderbird. In case you are planning to move to Thunderbird from Outlook, you will have to export your Outlook data to Thunderbird too. Outlook users can migrate their data to open source email client Mozilla Thunderbird in easy steps. Make sure to have both Outlook and Thunderbird installed on your system.

  1. Click Start on Windows Explorer. Go to Default Programs>> Set your default program
  2. Select Outlook and click on Set this program as default option (This is a mandatory step of this method.
  3. Now, open Thunderbird and click Tools>> Import.
  4. Select Import to Everything>> Next
  5. Select Outlook from the list that will appear now and click Next.
  6. On the next page, click on Finish button.
  7. Finally, you go to Default Programs and select Thunderbird as the default email.

Final Words

In this post, we have come to know how open source emails clients differ from proprietary emails client. We have taken proprietary email Outlook and open source email Thunderbird as an example. Choosing the best email client is totally users choice. One can choose the best email client according to their need. The blog covers the manual solution on how to migrate from Outlook to Thunderbird. For a quick, easy, and reliable migration, users can choose to use SysTools PST to MBOX Converter Tool.

About the author


I am Software Developer and Technical Blogger. I love to write about Email Migration, Data Recovery, Cloud Backup, Outlook Errors etc.