For the past 18 months I have solely used a web-based mail account using Google. It has meant freedom from the tyranny of a single desktop: complete integration with my blackberry and a unified mail, contacts and calendar system which is highly functional and makes we wonder why I ever thought the bloated and over complex Outlook was ever the right solution.
I can check email on the road, home and office can update my calendar and I can pick up email from whereever I can see the web: cafes, parish homes, my webbook – it really works! It is also 98% spam free so I don’t have to waste money on other spam filters.
You can configure Google to disguise itself as another account, for me this is firstname.lastname@example.org which I have owned for years and no-one knows I use Google. You can configure your old account to forward all your mail to Google and then just forget about it, so if you are better known on say MSN and want to keep that, you can just set it to forward and you are sorted. You can export your contacts from Outlook as a text file (usually CSV) and import them into your Google Contacts and hence the Blackberry!
If you have a smartphone, then the Google Mobile Apps application can take things a step further, not only giving you complete Blackberry access to your mail, synchronising mail and contacts but even giving you access to Google Maps (very useful if, as we did yesterday, you get lost in Brighton).
Once you are logged into Google, you can create a customised or iGoogle home page, which is my home page where ever I go. It contains widgits for my mail, calendar, Twitter and Facebook as well as access to the National Rail Timetable and other stuff that interests or amuses me – you can have what you like on it. It really frees you from a single point of contact and in the fluid form that is parishLife and ministry, it is the way to go.
Give it a go!