Swooping down from Mozilla’s Web site like a diving bird of prey, capturing and devouring e-mail as if it were a field of mice, Thunderbird 2 is here and this time, it means business.
Thunderbird, as you all may be familiar with, is Mozilla’s (the open source corporation that created the Firefox Web browser) version of an e-mail client. Similar to Outlook Express in more than one way, Thunderbird offers PC users an alternative to the Windows embedded software, which is consequently raising the bar for Microsoft at the same time.
Thunderbird 2, Release Candidate 1 was released on April 6, 2007 and although it is a Release Candidate and not the official release, the program is extremely stable. The release doesn’t offer up any serious changes or groundbreaking features, but instead, it has improved on existing features and it focuses more on user efficiency and production. The interface is not a far departure from Outlook Express, which makes for a painless migration if you’re interested in trying things out. But, it is a lot more streamline by default, which gives you the control over which tools to add to the interface.
Here are a few of the features that Thunderbird 2 RC1 has to offer:
- Message Tags: Create your own tags for organizing e-mail. Messages can be assigned to any number of tags. Tags can be combined with saved searches and mail views to make it easier to organize your e-mail.
- Visual Theme: Thunderbird 2’s theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability and maximize screen real estate.
(That’s the Walnut theme. It’s lovely, isn’t it?!)
- Session History Navigation: Back and Forward buttons allow navigation through message history.
- Advanced Folder Views: Customize the folder pane to show favorite, unread or recent folders.
- Easy Access to Popular Web Mail Services: Gmail and Mac users can access their accounts in Thunderbird by simply providing their usernames and passwords.
- Improved Support For Extensions: Extensions can now add custom columns to the message list pane, in addition to storing custom message data in the mail database.
- Improved New Mail Notification Alerts: New mail alerts include information, such as the subject, sender and message preview text.
- Folder Summary Pop ups: Mouse over a folder with new messages to see a summary of the new messages in that folder.
- Saved Search Folder Performance: Search results for saved search folders are now cached, improving folder loading performance.
- Find As You Type: Finds and highlights message text as you type.
- Improved Filing Tools: Recent folder menu items for moving and copying messages to recently used folders. Move/Copy functionality again.
- Updates to the Extension System: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.
- New Windows installer: Based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, the new Windows installer resolves many long standing issues.
- Windows Vista Support: Many enhancements and fixes for Windows Vista.
In addition to all of these great new features, there are a few resources for Thunderbird that may make Outlook Express green with envy. For instance, there is a complete guide on how to install Thunderbird, along with the use of most of the popular features listed on their site. There is also a message board that you can use to answer any questions you may have that are not covered in the guide or FAQs section. Also, just like for Firefox, there are all sorts of downloads (add ons) you can get to enhance your Thunderbird. You know, by either adding functionality or simply changing the look of things.
If you use Outlook Express and like Firefox, you owe it to yourself to check out Thunderbird 2. Installing it is a piece of cake too. It will import most of your Outlook Express settings, minus the password, for the accounts, so you really don’t have to worry about that. Not to mention, you can use them both side by side. Just choose to “Leave a copy of the message on the server” and you will be able to pull up the same message on both e-mail clients. That way, it kind of holds your hand while you’re trying out the software. Then, you can decide if you would like to go with it and get out from under the Microsoft yoke of dominance.
I love the Mozilla corporation and I love their products. They are the “good guys,” in this geek’s opinion, looking out for the John Q. Public and I for one, would like to say thanks for all the great programs. You keep making them and I’ll keep showcasing them!
You can download Thunderbird 2 here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I already do!
~ Chad Stelnicki