Webmail clients have pretty much advanced to the point now where we aren’t wishing for much more. Outlook still plays an important role in the Enterprise helping to tie together contacts, calendar, and mail into one application, and for everyone else with offline needs, there is Thunderbird. Thunderbird as an open source project has always been the gold standard on the PC as a free alternative to Outlook, even though it has never enjoyed anywhere near the same market share as Mozilla’s other open source baby. You may have heard of Firefox perhaps?
Mozilla released a couple new versions of its popular Thunderbird email client today, Thunderbird v3.1.16 and v8.0, along with the 1.0 launch of Lightning, a fully integrated calendar add-on for Thunderbird that lets users organize schedules and events. More importantly, the combination of Thunderbird 8 and Lightning 1.0 gives open-source advocates a free and fully featured replacement for Microsoft's Outlook client.
Mozilla this week made available the first beta of Thunderbird 3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Codenamed "Lanikai," the latest release introduces a few changes to the open-source email client, many of which take place under the hood.
Built on top of the Gecko 1.9.2 platform (the same engine powering Firefox 3.6), Mozilla says you can expect improvements in stability and memory, fixes to improve upgrading from Thunderbird 2, fixes for auto complete, tabs, and activity manager, and several design improvements and corrections to the interface.
As with any beta software, you should expect a few bugs, and there are a handful of known issues in Thunderbird 3. Kaspersky's Anti-Spam extension is disabled, for instance, and you may run into some SMTP issues.
If you still want to give it a try, you can download a copy right here.
It's difficult to envision a life without email. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Suffice, digital messaging is just a fact of geek life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Whether your inbox gets flooded with messages like the Nile during rainy season, or it's barren as one of those outback wastelands that Bear Grylls likes to visit, you probably aren't using your email client of choice to its fullest potential.
That's ok. Neither was I before undertaking the research for this week's open-source and freeware roundup. But now that I have seen the light, as it were, I would never go back to the ol' vanilla installations of Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail, or whatever one's particular email utility of choice happens to be. There are just too many interesting ways to tweak and alter the normal email experience to better enhance your ability to read, organize, and shuffle your messages.
That's kind of "the big point" of the roundup this week--making your email work better for you. Click the jump, and I'll show you five apps and utilities for taking your email processing to the next level!
Mozilla earlier this week released its Thunderbird 3 email client in stable form, which introduced a handful of new features, like tabbed email and a new search interface. It also contains code from an unlikely source - the French military.
It all started six years ago when the French military chose Mozilla's open-source software rather than roll with Microsoft's proprietary software. The reason? The open-source nature allowed the military to tinker with the code and build security extensions.
"We started with a military project, but quickly generalized it," said Lieutenant-Colonel Frederic Suel of the Ministry of Defense and one of those in charge of the project.
Some of the work the French military did on Thunderbird ended up being released to the public under the name "TrustedBird," of which Thunderbird 3 borrows some of the code.
"The primary changes (the military" have made allow them to know for sure when messages have been read, which is critical in a command-and-control organization," said David Ascher, chief executive of Mozilla Messaging.
Just last month, Mozilla announced it would keep its Thunderbird 3.0 email client in Alpha form because "calling something a beta is likely to trigger a bunch of extra press attention we're not yet in a position to deal with." Well, Mozilla's now ready and has pushed its email client into Release Candidate status.
The RC is a public preview and intended for developer testing and community feedback, Mozilla says. Mozilla added that it's looking specifically for feedback on the client's new search tools, tabbed email, message archiving, new mail account setup wizard, and improvements for developers.
There are quite a few changes Mozilla made to the new email client, all of which are outlined in the Release Notes here. Be sure to give it a glance before grabbing the download here.
Those expecting Mozilla to release its open-source email client Thunderbird 3.0 in Beta 1 form will have to wait a little longer than initially thought. Rather than attach the Beta moniker to the updated version, Mozilla instead is dubbing it Alpha 3.
"Calling something a beta is likely to trigger a bunch of extra press attention that we're not yet in a position to deal with," said Dan Mosedale, who works at Mozilla Messaging. "Some number [of] reviews will be inappropriately pre-judging based on its current state. In the best case, this would be a distraction."
Mosedale also cited a lack of landing several milestones (AutoConfig, GloDa with full-text search, STEEL) as another reason why he's more comfortable calling the lastest Thunderbird 3.0 release an Alpha build instead of a Beta.
No matter what you call it, the latest beta/alpha/unfinished release is available now for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.