Tomorrow, the makers of Firefox will be launching the third version of Thunderbird, its open source and free email application that is produced out of Mozilla Messaging, which is a subsidiary of Mozilla devoted to producing innovation around communication and the internet. Thunderbird 3, which is available in 50 languages and is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, has made more than 2,000 improvements and fixes to the new email client. Thunderbird 3 will be available to the public mid-day tomorrow here.
One of the main improvements to Thunderbird 3, says Mozilla Messaging CEO David Ascher, is the client’s search capacity. The new search interface contains filtering and timeline tools to try to help users pin-point emails by words, correspondents or attachment types. Thunderbird 3 also includes tabbed email, which lets users view emails and folders in tabs within the client, similar to the way that you manage tabs in Firefox. Tabs are remembered in the client, so you don’t have to keep re-saving tabs.
Thunderbird has also added a new archive feature that moves email from your inbox into separate archive folder, a sleeker address book, a new setup wizards, and the ability to combine individual mailboxes to manage multiple email accounts in one spot. The email client has been tweaked to integrate more seamlessly with Gmail and Windows and Mac OS X.
Ascher tells me that Thunderbird currently has 10 to 15 million users. While this doesn’t reach the user base of Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and others, Thunderbird has seen steady growth in a field with formidable competitors. And this version is the most powerful iteration of the email client yet, so I expect Thunderbird to gain a few more fans with this release.
We expect for Thunderbird to collaborate with Mozilla’s recently launched, open-source, experimental email and communication platform, Raindrop. Ascher tells me that Raindrop is still constantly evolving but it will be interesting to see what two-way interactions the platform will feature and what content it eventually will bring in.
Full disclosure: My husband works for the Mozilla Corp.