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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Likbez: A BlackBerry Alternative

While BlackBerrys have been slow to arrive in Russia, lovers of mobile e-mail services can now grab a relatively cheap alternative.

Portable devices with Microsoft's Windows Mobile software 6.0 version running on them can be used for receiving e-mails as they arrive. There are some catches, however.

First of all, the folks from the U.S. software giant have ensured that the service only works with Microsoft's own Windows Live Hotmail accounts. So, if you are using another e-mail address, you must consider switching or at least adding another address to your portfolio.

Second, you need to have a Windows Mobile phone with the latest software, called 6.0 -- some devices running the older 5.0 version may be upgraded. They are usually relatively high-end smartphones that sell for about 15,000 rubles ($600).

Third, you must put up with lower battery life resulting from the much increased activity of your phone, which concurrently results in more radiation. Like most push e-mail systems, the service actually entails the phone checking the e-mail server frequently, but you can tell your phone how often it should look for new e-mails.

If that is all fine with you, proceed to your phone's menu. In an English-language setup, choose "Programs" and click "Windows Live." Go to "Menu" and select "Options" and then "Sync schedule." Under "Sync frequency," set "As items arrive" to get e-mails as soon they come in -- like text messages. Or, choose every 15, 30 or 60 minutes to check the server less frequently, saving on battery life and radiation.

What you pay for, of course, is data traffic. But even with constant checking, the flow is extremely low and the Outlook-derived e-mail program on Windows Mobile actually prompts you to make an extra click before it downloads larger e-mails or attachments.

There is a final caveat of which users in Russia should beware. Hotmail's spam fighters do not seem to like addresses from .ru domains -- so e-mails often get gobbled up by the spam filter before they can be delivered to your phone. You might need to log on to your Hotmail account and check the filter settings. But you can always set it to accept certain domains you frequently encounter.