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Can I upgrade Outlook Express?

Can I upgrade Outlook Express?

I’ve been using the same computer for 5 years now. Email was working fine but past few days Outlook Express has been giving me several problems. Do you think I should buy a new computer or should I just upgrade Outlook Express program? Where can I find the latest Outlook Express version?

Everyday tons of distressed users ask me for solutions to the problems they are facing with Outlook Express. Some of them, like Leslie here, are so frustrated that they don’t mind shelling out good money for a new computer just to regain access to their email. Sadly, as I will explain in detail in this post, things are not so simple and straightforward. In brief, an Outlook Express upgrade simply doesn’t exist and a new computer may not be an ideal solution.

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You cannot upgrade Outlook Express!

Unfortunately, if you are running version 6, you cannot upgrade the Outlook Express program because Microsoft has stopped its development! Ignoring my tongue-in-cheek references to Windows Mail as Outlook Express 7 and Windows Live Mail as Outlook Express 8, the truth is that the program has been shelved – and please don’t complain to me… I don’t make the rules!

However, if you are using an older version of the email client (Outlook Express 4 or 5), you can download the installer file from the Microsoft web site and try to install Outlook Express on your computer.

UPDATE: The Internet Explorer + Outlook Express installer file is no longer available as a download from the Microsoft web site.

Outlook Express on Vista

Another question I am frequently asked is how to install Outlook Express on Windows Vista. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (once again) but, as far as I know, there is no way you can use this email client on the Vista operating system. As you would have noticed, Outlook Express is missing on Vista because it has been substituted with another program called Windows Mail that looks and functions quite like its predecessor.

Now, Windows Mail too has been replaced by Windows Live Mail which can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft web site.

Update: The Windows 7 operating system comes without an email program though vendors may factory-install Windows Live Mail. Thus, there is no Outlook Express on Windows 7!

Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail – Outlook Express alternatives

However, there are many alternatives to Outlook Express. In addition to Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail, which are Microsoft products, you can use other email clients on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Solution to Outlook Express problem

Since Leslie does not mention the exact problem, it kind of hard to provide a solution. However, based on my experience, I can suggest the following:

Finally, let me answer Leslie’s questions directly:

  • Buying a new computer: It’s difficult to get Windows XP based computers (unless you opt in for netbooks). Nowadays new computers come with Windows 7 on which one cannot install the email client. So buying a new system is certainly not a good option just because the email program is behaving erratically.
  • Upgrade Outlook Express program: You can’t do this unless you are using version 4 or 5. I suggest repairing the email program with the solutions I provide in other articles.
  • Latest Outlook Express version: I fondly like to refer to Windows Live Mail as the latest version of Outlook Express – A rose by any other name will still be a rose, right? If Outlook Express is giving you problems, download Windows Live Mail (free) – it works on XP, Vista and Windows 7.

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Your comments
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  • jack Saxon on November 21st, 2009 2:50 pm

    My Outlook Express emails won’t download. Is the best plan to uninstall (how?) my Outlook Express on Windows XP and try to install a new (free!) one?

  • Manish on November 23rd, 2009 8:52 am

    Jack, you need to download Windows Live Mail which is also free just like Outlook Express. This new email program from Microsoft works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

  • Ron Hoffman on December 16th, 2009 6:48 pm

    Does Live mail use stationery? Can you get rid of the bar on the left that shows the email folders like in Outlook Express?

  • Manish on December 30th, 2009 7:32 pm

    Ron, the ‘bar’ that shows email folders cannot be removed completely. You can, however, decrease its size. Choose “Use compact view for Folder pane” from the “Folder pane” section under “Layout“. And yes, Windows Live Mail uses stationery just like Outlook Express. Click Format -> Apply Stationery -> More stationery and then choose one.

  • Barbara Anne Coughlan on March 21st, 2010 5:51 am

    Hello, I use Outlook Express on my desktop computer, Windows XP. I have bought a laptop and I believe (being practically computor illiterate) it is ‘Vista’. What I need to do is access my Outlook Express emails on my desktop computer whilst I am away from home using my laptop, I also need to respond to them. How do I put Outlook Express onto my Vista laptop?

  • Manish on March 21st, 2010 12:28 pm

    Barbara, there is no Outlook Express for Vista. You can use the pre-installed Windows Mail program which is quite similar to Outlook Express. Or, better still, download and install Windows Live Mail.
    Once you decide on which program to use, transfer the email account settings, Outlook Express address book and old emails to your new computer – refer other articles on this web site for instructions.

  • Ed on March 24th, 2010 5:54 pm

    My Windows XP computer takes ages for Outlook Express to start; if I upgrade to Windows Live Mail, will I need to know my passwords etc. or can will they be transferred on their own?

  • Manish on March 27th, 2010 7:33 pm

    Ed, Outlook Express may be loading slow on your XP computer because it’s storing tons of email. I may be wrong because there are just too many variables to consider but this is generally the most common cause of the problem.
    Any way, if you want to use Windows Live Mail, go ahead. This program can be installed in just a few minutes and it should automatically get the email account settings and messages from Outlook Express… at least that’s what I experienced. If this doesn’t happen refer the following:
    Copy Outlook Express email account to Windows Live Mail
    Copy old Outlook Express email to Windows Live Mail

  • Beverly on April 7th, 2010 5:31 pm

    Thanks for posting the information. I was able to import Outlook Express email messages from old XP computer to my new Win 7 computer (after I downloaded Windows Live Mail). Thanks for your help.

  • Mark on December 12th, 2010 12:54 am

    Is the Windows Live Mail format and layout similar to Outlook Express. I’ve been using Outlook Express for so long, learning to use another program intimidates me a little.

  • Manish on December 15th, 2010 8:29 am

    You can change the layout of Windows Live Mail to look like Outlook Express but (obviously) you can’t get the exact same interface. You may also be interested in knowing more about the differences between Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail.
    WLM has many more features not found in O.E – it can serve as a RSS reader or a blogging tool, for example. The older program was simply an email and news client. Details can be found at Windows Live Mail and Outlook Express – which one should you use?

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