Along with Firefox 15, Mozilla put out the brand new Thunderbird 15 as well. While the future of Thunderbird is still somewhat murky, its present is looking good. The latest update to the venerable email client comes with one big feature, integrated chat, but also plenty of other changes.
The most noticeable of them has to be the new "Australis" UI revamp inspired by the Firefox redesign which is still in the works. Also new is support for Ubuntu One for large attachments, do not track for search, and integrated email and chat search.
The Thunderbird team has been working on chat support for quite a while now. The feature has finally landed in the stable channel, bringing with it support for Facebook chat, Twitter, Google Talk (Google+ chat), IRC as well as any other service that uses the standard XMPP protocol.
Just click on the Chat button to get started and add any account you need. Your contacts will be grouped together and you'll be able to contact people via email or any of the chat services they're using.
The new Australis look
The second big change and the most noticeable is the new look. Based on the Australis concept originally designed for Firefox, the Thunderbird team tooled the mockups and turned them into reality much faster than the Firefox team did.
Australis is still experimental in Firefox, granted the browser has more UI elements and reaches hundreds of millions of people so the room for error is much smaller. In fact, while the Thunderbird version of Australis and the Firefox one look the same, they're completely different underneath. In any case, rounded tabs are here to stay.
Do Not Track
Thunderbird now supports the Do Not Track header option, which signals to advertisers that you don't want your visits to be tracked for ad targeting purposes. You may be wondering why Thunderbird would need it since you don't really browse the web with it. But you can do web searches inside Thunderbird and this is where the new option applies.
Integrated search and Ubuntu One support
Speaking of search, with the introduction of chat, the internal search now covers both older email messages as well as archived chat logs so you'll find everything you need in one place.
The latest update also adds support for Ubuntu One for file sharing. Thunderbird already supported YouSendIt to enable people to bypass the attachment limits imposed by most email services and share large files easily.