The small office Internet email game is easier than before, thanks to CE Software's new QuickMail Internet Access Kit. The entry-level bundle (expected to sell for around $549) includes a ten-user QuickMail package; a Mail*Link Remote UUCP gateway from StarNine Technologies, Inc. licensed for ten users; a copy of "Dr. Bob Rankin's Accessing the Internet by E-mail" (a book that offers advice on making the most of an email-only Internet connection); and an introductory offer from UUNET for UUCP mail service. (UUCP access to the Internet uses on-demand modem connections to exchange incoming and outgoing mail files.)
QuickMail is CE Software's workgroup-oriented electronic mail software (see TidBITS-240), and a QuickMail ten-pack has a retail price of $649, which CE says is typically available for about $200 less than the retail price. A Mail*Link Remote ten-user license is available from CE for $279, so the QuickMail Internet Access Kit is a great deal for those planning to buy both products anyway.
StarNine Technologies says the new version of Mail*Link Remote included in this bundle (version 1.5) offers a greatly streamlined installation process. Since the bundle includes ten free hours of UUNET service and a waiver of UUNET's setup and registration fees, the software comes pre-configured to work with UUNET. The purchaser can fax a registration form to UUNET to quickly obtain a domain name and other customized information needed to set up a mail gateway.
Mail*Link Remote uses a modem to communicate regularly with UUNET or another service provider, and exchanges electronic mail messages and Usenet news articles. (QuickMail has no practical facility for handling news, however.) Mail*Link Remote 1.5 has a number of improvements over previous versions of the StarNine gateway, though it doesn't have the polish of its big brother, Mail*Link SMTP, which requires a full-time Internet connection. The company plans an affordable upgrade for Mail*Link Remote in the first half of 1995 that will further beef up the product. Meanwhile, QuickMail Internet Access Kit buyers who decide they need a higher-level connection will be able to upgrade to Mail*Link SMTP at a reduced price, once they hook up the full-time Internet line.
StarNine's David Thompson comments that one powerful possibility with this bundle includes mailing list management. QM-Postman (see TidBITS-237) offers centralized creation and maintenance of email distribution lists, which can include recipients on the Internet.
If your office already has QuickMail, and you just need a gateway, CE Software now offers separate Mail*Link Remote packages on its own price list. A ten-user pack costs $279, 20-user $399, 50-user $899, and 100-user $1199. Another option is UMCP\QM from Information Electronics. This gateway, available at $395 for an unlimited number of users on a single mail server, pays a bit more attention to Internet mail conventions in converting between QuickMail and Internet mail. IE's PostalUnion/SMTP for QuickMail offers a much more complete solution than UMCP\QM, but like Mail*Link SMTP is intended for use with a full-time Internet connection. The company plans a PostalUnion/UUCP gateway for QuickMail for early 1995 release, and will make upgrades available to UMCP\QM owners.
Using a gateway between a desktop email program and the Internet is never a perfect scenario, but for many businesses it's the best approach. More Internet-oriented solutions are most affordable in single-user environments (such as the dialup SLIP service and assorted TCP/IP utilities described in Adam's Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh); such solutions for workgroups are only feasible with full-time network connections, which are still expensive enough to be beyond the reach of many small businesses and a good number of larger ones as well. A UUCP gateway has the advantage of being inexpensive to operate; Internet service providers can offer UUCP services without needing much in the way of resources.
CE Software has been embarrassed by the ugly Internet mail addresses <firstname.lastname@example.org> it uses internally, but a company spokesman assures us that a change is in the works, and CE will soon have its own domain name registered.
CE Software, Inc. -- 800/523-7638 -- 515/221-1801
515/221-1806 (fax) -- <email@example.com>
Information Electronics -- 912/638-1893 -- 912/638-1384 (fax)
StarNine Technologies, Inc. -- 510/649-4949 -- 510/548-0393 (fax)