Mozilla has finally released the long overdue update to its desktop email client Thunderbird. After a few years in development and a long beta stage, the final build of Mozilla Thunderbird 3 is now available for download. The latest version is a major upgrade and packs a lot of new or improved features, which should be greatly appreciated by those who haven't been using the beta version, like tabbed emails and an overhauled search tool.
"Thunderbird 3 represents more than two years of development from hundreds of developers, security experts, testers and localization and support communities from around the world," David Ascher, CEO of Mozilla Messaging said. "Thunderbird 3 continues its history of giving users the most flexibility and control to get through their email faster and have it simply work the way they want it to plus many of the new features take the best of web mail and bring it to the desktop."
So, what have two years of development brought for Thunderbird? As you can expect, there are quite a lot of features, though not nearly as much as the two years schedule would have you believe, but the biggest and the ones most likely to make a difference for the users are the tabbed email capabilities, which allow users to switch between different emails and different sections of the client, and the improved search capabilities.
With tabbed emails, a concept borrowed from browsers, it's easy to have several emails or folders opened at the same time, but also to compose an email, as well as have a calendar app opened, for example. This greatly improves the experience and means a lot less time is wasted moving from one section to the other.
The feature that is bound to make the biggest impact, though, is the very powerful search built into the app. The search box is featured front and center in Thunderbird 3 and users can focus and filter their searches straight from the box without going to a separate page with filter options line Subject, From, Recipient or message body and others as well as combinations of them. The only downside is that, especially for heavy users, on first install it will take quite a while for Thunderbird to index all the emails.
One feature that is missing though, despite initially being slated to be part of the software, is the calendar tool Lightning. The feature is available as an add-on, which is another major update in Thunderbird 3, but it isn't integrated with the program, so it may limit its reach. Still, it's a very useful tool and there is even a Google Calendar add-on for it to allow users to sync the two.
A bunch of other features make their first appearance in Thunderbird 3 like a Message Archive, One-Click Address Book, Smart Folders and others are under the hood, everything is handled by the latest Gecko 1.9.1 HTML rendering engine which powers Firefox.
Mozilla Thunderbird 3 stable for Windows is available for download here.