Qualcomm today released a public beta of Eudora 4.3 (limited to 250,000 users who fill out a survey), adding a few new features and eliminating the previous split between the free Eudora Light and the commercial Eudora Pro (see our "Eudora Pro 4.2" series for details on Eudora Pro’s features). Starting with Eudora 4.3, users can select any of three operating modes by choosing Payment & Registration from the Help menu.
- Light mode is essentially an upgrade to the current Eudora Light, offering a reduced feature set for free.
- Paid mode moves along the same lines as Eudora Pro, providing Eudora’s full feature set for $50 (with a $10 rebate). Paid mode in 4.3 will be free to owners of Eudora Pro 4.2.
- Sponsored mode, which is new to Eudora 4.3, combines the free price of Light mode with the full feature set of Paid mode, giving you the full power of Eudora Pro for no payment. The catch is that a 144 by 144 pixel advertising box displays a series of static advertisements that are visible at all times while you’re in Eudora. Sponsored mode will be the default for the free downloadable version.
The addition of Sponsored mode is bound to raise controversy, since it is one of the first mainstream examples of advertising appearing outside of Web browsers. However, Sherlock has always displayed banner ads, and Sherlock 2 displays only ads from Apple or Apple partners. Plus, Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0.1 for Windows reportedly displays advertising for users reading mail downloaded from Microsoft’s advertising-supported Hotmail service.
Overall, though, we feel that this foray into advertising-supported software makes sense in a software industry increasingly driven by free software. Sponsored mode is merely an addition for Qualcomm – Eudora 4.3 still offers the equivalent of Eudora Pro and a significantly upgraded Eudora Light. So Eudora Pro 4.2 users gain a few new features for free. Eudora Light users gain a major upgrade for free. And if a new user doesn’t feel like paying for Eudora but still wants all the features, Sponsored mode is there. After testing Eudora in Sponsored mode, we didn’t find the ads particularly annoying, especially in comparison with many of today’s Web sites, because Qualcomm isn’t accepting ads with animation or sound.
The main new feature in Eudora 4.3 is a History Address Book to which Eudora automatically adds the addresses of people whose address you type or to whose messages you reply. Names in the History Address Book work just like other nicknames you create, which simplifies sending mail to someone with whom you’re having a discussion, but who otherwise isn’t in your Address Book. Also new is a Link History window that tracks all the URLs you’ve visited, along with a variety of minor tweaks and bug fixes, including an undocumented feature that lets Eudora read and write specific settings to Internet Config even if connection to Internet Config is turned off. Just replace the setting with ««ICP»» (that’s ICP surrounded by double angle brackets, which you get with Option-Backslash and Shift-Option-Backslash. This feature is useful for automatically switching SMTP server settings in Eudora when you switch locations with the Location Manager. Qualcomm also plans to add tools to import mail and addresses from other email programs before Eudora 4.3’s official release in the first quarter of 2000.
System requirements for the Eudora 4.3 public beta include a PowerPC-based Mac (68K support is still under consideration) with 1,800K of RAM running System 7.1.2 or later with the Text Encoding Converter. The download weighs in at 5.9 MB for the Mac (or 7.5 MB for Windows, if you also use Eudora there). In the interests of disclosure, note that Adam Engst, publisher of TidBITS, is the author of "Eudora for 4.2 Windows & Macintosh." from Peachpit Press.