In the US, email clients are very important to customers. That's the reason why setting up an email client is one of the top call drivers here at Microsoft Answer Desk (Windows). Most of the time, their Internet Service Providers (ISP) provides an email address that ends with @ispname. In most cases also, customers are not using the web-based email service that comes with their ISP. Thus, the need to setup an email client is important.
The leading email client these days is Microsoft Outlook. It's part of the Microsoft Office Suite and is software that customers have to buy. The last time I checked the Office website, MS Office Home and Student 2013 sells for $279.99 while its web-based equivalent, Office 365, has a tag price of $79.99 a year (subscription base).
That's the reason why some customers look for an alternative to MS Outlook because it's pricey for some. Microsoft is a generous company and it provided a free version (but less features) of MS Outlook and named it Windows Live Mail. It's part of the Windows Live Essentials Suite which also includes Messenger, Movie Maker, Writer, Family Safety and Photo Gallery.
Setting up an email address with Windows Live Writer is pretty much automatic especially if you're using AOL, Gmail, Outlook, MSN, Hotmail and Live emails. If you're using Yahoo or GMX, then you have to configure the port and server addresses manually. For most US ISP, customers need to setup their @ispname email addresses manually. They have to contact their ISP first and get the POP and SMTP port numbers being used as well as the Incoming and Outgoing Server names.
An alternative to MS Outlook and Windows Live Mail is released by the Mozilla Foundation. They are the same company that released the Mozilla Firefox. Their email client is called Mozilla Thunderbird and it can setup almost all emails automatically, including Yahoo and GMX. It's also simpler than the Windows Live Mail when it comes to the design and look of the email client (minimalist). This is my personal choice when it comes to email client. Not to mention that it automatically checks the ISP Database for the POP and SMTP settings.
I would highly suggest that they avail of the Gmail service so that it stays the same even if they change their ISP. Anyway, here are some of the usual ISP settings that customers need to know in setting up their email addresses:
@q.com (now @centurylink.com)