Agent is Back!

by Jonathan Gennick

Agent is back! For those
who don't know, Agent is a combination mail/newsreader, and it's one of the
most delightful and powerful software programs I've ever run. Agent had multithreading, for example, well ahead of Microsoft Outlook. I could read and respond to messages at the same time that Agent was downloading and uploading them. It was, and is, a great product.

I go way
back with Agent
, having begun with version 0.99 in I'm not sure what year,
but perhaps 1994 or 1995. Agent was developed by a company called Forte, which
was acquired in 1998 by a company known as Genesys, which bought Forte for other
reasons and didn't care about Agent. Thus, Agent almost died off, and it would
have been a real tragedy for the world to lose such a well-crafted piece of

Even today, Agent is a very capable email client, and it's still the best newsreader
I know of for the Windows platform, or perhaps for any operating-system. I moved
away from Agent, to use The
, only because of a need to deal with two email accounts. Agent didn't
do multiple accounts. I gave my Agent license to my wife after she got hit with
an Outlook payload, and she's had not a lick of trouble with malware in the
year and a half since.

Agent is, in a small way, responsible for my writing career. When a SAMS Publishing
editor first contacted me by email in 1997 about writing a book, I took the
note to be spam and deleted it. Two days later I thought better, pulled the
note back out of my "Trash" folder, and made the phone call that changed
the course of my life. Had it not been for Agent's Trash folder, I'd, well,
I just hate to think about how close a call that was.

In 2001, Agent's original authors got back together, bought back the rights
to their creation, and began planning for Agent 2.0, which entered beta on November
13 this year. To my delight, and I'm sure that of thousands of Agent users,
the 2.0 version will support multiple email accounts, and even multiple news
servers. I can't wait to see what else has been added. Kudos to Agent's authors
for their tenacity in breathing life back into such a wonderful and useful product.



2003-12-12 09:52:24
Agreed on Agent
I am a big lover of Agent as well, and am glad to hear about the multiple news server feature. That was the only think keeping it from being the perfect newsreader.
Jonathan Gennick
2003-12-12 09:55:54
Agreed on Agent
And don't forget those multiple email accounts. Mail and news seem to fit together. I'll be glad, I think to have them both merged back into the same application.
2003-12-12 11:01:53
An excellent tool
I used to love Agent; an excellent email program and news reader. It was the lack multiple email account support that first stopped me using it, so I'm glad they've put that back.

If I still used Windows, I'd probably be back using this.

2003-12-15 07:52:12
Or should I say, "Mozilla Firebird" these days? I've never used Agent, for years I was quite happy thanks very much with XEmacs Gnus (which certainly did mail + news; can't recall using multiple accounts at the time); then switched to outlook as I was heading a network admin group and wanted to see why the pc users complained so much. I soon saw. Outlook epitomises the phrase "microsoft sucks", as it imported your mail fine, but couldn't export your mailbox in any meaningful way. I also got to find out how to fix pst corruptions on a regular basis...

As soon as jobs and software permitted, I switched away from Outlook and moved to Mozilla. It has pretty excellent support for multiple email accounts, and deals fine with exchange integration (I use IMAP to access my mail so that I can still get at the "appointment" messages by firing up outlook, and it handles relaying for my other mail accts using smtp auth too). Mozilla integrates news too, for multiple news servers.

Only thing I don't like is that handling of attachments is slow, but I believe this is down to Exchange converting them on-the-fly when I access them via IMAP.

2005-05-30 11:52:59
An excellent tool
Sylpheed is pretty good as well ;>) I'm still running WinXP Pro on one of my drives. It's still so much faster than Linux.

Regarding Agent, unfortunately the developers appear not to be putting in the multi-POP support quite yet. It seems that there was a poll taken and multi-POP support came in a close second from last. Obviously most of the people that are using Agent are not into reading newsgroups but rather downloading files.

For anyone interested in actually reading newsgroups and email, I'm now recommending
40tude's Dialog