Mozilla's Thunderbird E-Mail App Out In New Beta Version

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 23, 2009

Beta 3 of version 3.0 of Mozilla's Thunderbird open source e-mail application is now available for download, for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You can get it here, although it's still classified as for testing purposes only. There are also release notes, and a list of known issues available. Version 3.0 is a major upgrade, and has been in the works for more than a year. Here are some of the new features.

Thunderbird 3 Beta 3 is based on the Gecko rendering platform, also found in Mozilla's Firefox browser. That version of Gecko should make Thunderbird faster, and also more stable. I've occasionally had stability problems with Thunderbird in past versions, so it's good that Mozilla is focusing on that.

According to Mozilla developers, there are more than 500 changes in the new release, including many fixes for Thunderbird extension developers. Mozilla is also focused on improving the user experience in Thunderbird, with:

Tabbed Email Messages--allowing you to open new messages in new tabs.

Message Summary View--to allow you to select a group of messages and see a summary of them.

Improved Gmail Integration--including better recognition of Gmail's special folders such as Sent and Trash.

I downloaded the new beta in less than two minutes. I noticed that it's available in over 30 languages. It downloads and installs in less than two minutes, and there is an easy setup wizard that I don't recall being there before. It asks you for an outgoing mail server, an incoming one, an e-mail address you want to use, and whether you want mail imported from any external e-mail engine. The interface is very clean, and the toolbar and menu options on the Windows versions follow standard Windows conventions.

The new features that allow you to open messages in new tabs are especially useful. If you just double click on a message it will open in a new tab, and this interface metaphor feels a lot like tabs in Firefox.

If you're going to download the new version of Thunderbird, do keep in mind that it is a testing version at this point, and is likely to see more beta versions. Also, during installation, I got a message saying that if I was installing the Linux version, it might overwrite previously installed Linux versions. This new version definitely feels stable enough to download and try.