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Webmail uses a standard web browser to view and manage messages on a mail server. Like IMAP, this allows the recipient to access his email from any computer, but now the computer doesn't have to be set up with an email program configured for the recipient's mail service. Any computer with a web browser will work.

Webmail tends to be slower and less flexible than a well-tuned email program running on the recipient's computer. This is changing, however, as web browsers and JavaScript get more sophisticated, evolving from passive displays to active participation. Operations like dragging a message to a folder can now be done on the "client side" without having to download a whole new HTML page from the server.