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Here's the news: Thawte delivered the message about stopping it's free mail certification a week ago (by means of an an unsigned email).

StartSSL offers similar service, as well as CA Cert. But I know nothing of their reputation and if their root certificates are included by default in standard browsers/mail clients.

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Thank you for asking this question, stephendedalus. I remember way back when Thawte (before they were Thawte/Verisign) first offered their free personal mail certs; I contemplated hard, but decided against hitching myself to a particular provider. Know I know how it would have ended. – micahwittman Dec 18 '09 at 22:37

The StartSSL root certificates are included in Windows since last month, as it was part of the root server update pushed to all client via Windows Update. The official source for this available here

The CA Cert one has not yet been approved and they are still in audit phase with Microsoft. The certificate can be manually imported with these instructions.

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Thanks a lot, that was fast. Would you happen to know as well where to find the root-certificates for all my mac-loving friends that will want to receive trusted mail from my account. Secondly: am I correct in assuming that we'd generally trust both companies? – stephendedalus Oct 19 '09 at 14:19
I am not sure regarding the Mac. Best guess would be that you just need to manually import the root certificate if it gives a problem. – BinaryMisfit Oct 19 '09 at 15:01

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