A simple setup of Outlook Express or Windows Mail as a newsreader

It's really easier than you think, as newsgroups gain popularity in being a useful channel for support for the mainstream of computer users, particularly with the release of Windows Vista as they include their own support groups by default. This was not done in any previous version of Windows, the user had to find their way to them as this avenue was only for the geekiest among us. Lord knows how hard it is to get any *really* useful help from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer like Dell, HP, Compaq, or Gateway) support area without paying through the nose.......

Anyhow, to setup OE (Outlook Express) or WM (Windows Mail) as a newsreader, first you must know the address of the server. This you can get from several sources which include, but aren't limited to:

Some require the use of a password, others are set to "read only" by the hosts. You must determine these before you begin.

As an example, I'll use one that I am familiar with, the Microsoft public servers for peer-to-peer support. Simply open OE or WM, click on Tools/Accounts, then on the news tab of the resulting window.

Click on the Add button, then on news, a "wizard" will pop up. On the first tab, give yourself a name (some use their real name, others pick a "handle"), click "next".

This block is tricky. A problem *most* newsgroup users will encounter is receiving unwanted e-mail or SPAM at the email address used for posting. The address you enter on this block will be visible to other users, so choose wisely. Some just put their real address here, for example I post using Others choose to add a few obvious extra characters to foil address harvesters (or SPAMMERS), like Some just put something entirely bogus such as The choice is yours, but I would strongly urge against using an unprotected real address. The advantage of using a disguised real address is that someone trying to reach you legitimately will be able to look at the address and easily decipher which characters to remove. An address harvester will not go to such lengths to get a valid e-mail address.

Once you've made your decision and have clicked the "next" button, you are at the news server address screen. Here you may enter the address of the news server, it is not necessary to precede it with "news://", just the address is fine. There is also an option here to indicate if the server requires a logon. Most servers requiring a user name and password need to have this box checked. In the case of the public server I mentioned, enter "" (without the quotes) and no name or password is required.

If you are required to logon, the next box will allow you to enter your user name and password, and choose whether or not to remember them. If not, you will come to the finish screen. Simply click the "finish" button.

Once you've done this, it should bring you back to the news/mail/etc... box, upon closing it, you will get a window that will populate the new server. You can search for the groups of your choice, and either visit them briefly to see if the content is of your choice, or "subscribe" to groups that you want to visit regularly. Be forewarned that some groups can contain a large number of posts, and some that include binaries or attachments can be huge and take a long time to download.

Often times, a user can setup a link to a newsgroup just by posting it as a link, for instance clicking on  news:// should open up a systems' default newsreader (in the case of most Windows system, this is Outlook Express). A more direct link can lead a reader directly to a specific group within that server, such as: news:// will bring you to the applications support area.

Please note that Outlook Express is not the only newsreader available and, according to some, not the best either. It is generally a good idea to monitor a group for a bit before posting to it, so that you get an idea of the ground rules. Some groups do not allow binaries, some frown upon using html and prefer plain text (this can be set up in the options area of Outlook Express), especially since some of other newsreaders do not interpret html well. Violation of those ground rules can result in your being "flamed" or blocked from participation. Other popular newsreaders available include Forté Agent and Xnews. 

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