Virginia based Webmail.us relaunched its web email service for small businesses this morning and it’s so ajax intensive that it’s really smooth to use. It’s not for everyone and it’s got some limitations to it, but small businesses interested in inexpensive enterprise webmail may find that their users really like it. Search, ajax and lightweight RSS integration are the product’s strengths.
Webmail.us has been around since ’99 but decided to focus on email outsourcing in 2003. The company received about a half million dollars in funding from private investors last year. Now in 2006 the company has a real Web 2.0 feel to it, with an active company blog and frequent software updates in addition to the new ajax UI.
The product is simple, ease of use is a primary aim, but it’s also got some cool features that make it interesting. Clicking on an email’s title in your inbox, for example, opens it up immediately below in an ajax box that feels like a desktop application. If you like the ajax feel of GMail you may like the Webmail platform even better, it’s got very smooth feel to it. There’s a one click demo account set up on the site so you can see for yourself.
Search can be limited to a single folder or across all of your items. Various fields can be searched easily and only items that include attachments can be searched. The spell checker has a nice feel to it and a handy revert button.
Calendering, contacts and a task list are all integrated. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds, though the feed reader is very lightweight right now. It might be appropriate for the state of small business RSS use, but I’d like to see it support OPML import and export (update: the company says this is supported) and a river of news view.
Webmail.us is also quite limited in terms of how to organize your emails. There’s no tagging or labels and it’s not even clear to me how to create new folders. Perhaps the search is aimed to full fill those needs while keeping things uncluttered.
Integration with other email systems is supported and the company says they have awesome spam filtering. I haven’t been able to test that out yet.
Standard storage plans range from 100mb up to 5GB per mailbox. Prices are low and judging from testimony around the web, the company’s product prior to relaunch satisfied the needs of many small businesses. Worth a look for sure. Richard MacManus wrote a nice overview of the webmail startup space yesterday that also included Webmail.us.