With tight economic times and my small business clients watching every penny, there has been new interest in alternatives to Microsoft Office, including Outlook. For light users of Word and Excel, I have suggested the free OpenOffice.org from Sun, with success.
Here's the wrinkle. Most of my clients are using an older version of Outlook and realize that keeping more current is important for reasons of security and spam prevention. Almost all email programs will import existing mail files directly from any of the Microsoft clients (Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail). However, getting back to Outlook is not quite so easy.
Why would you want to go back to Outlook after having abandoned it? Because hundreds of other products know how to interact with Outlook but with no other email software. The interesting Xobni is but one example.
I'm happy to help with your analysis of your email needs and choosing free or paid solutions that will best meet your needs.