Thunderbird 2.0 Beta 1 released today!

So I’ve been waiting for some news on Thunderbird 2.0 ever since Firefox 2 was released. Well, here is the first beta release and it looks like it was well worth the wait! Here’s the short list of changes:

  • Message Tags: Create your own tags for organizing email. Messages can be assigned any number of tags. Tags can be combined with saved searches and mail views to make it easier to organize email.  –  This sounds very similar to Google’s Gmail.  You use tags instead of folders, which can be really fast, but a little disconcerting if you’re not used to it.
  • Visual Theme: Thunderbird 2’s theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability.  –  The screen shots I’ve seen so far are impressive.  I’ve already seen people callling this just fluff and eyecandy, but I couldn’t disagree more.  Since I have to train teachers to use this app, any bit of user-friendliness and “eyecandy” that can be added is a very good thing!
  • Session History Navigation: Back and Forward buttons allow navigation through message history.  –  This might be useful, but I’ll let you know later.
  • Folder Views: Customize the folder pane to show favorite, unread or recent folders.  –  I have no idea what this means.  Hopefully, it will make more sense when I play with it.
  • 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 Offline Management: Thunderbird (Linux and Windows) automatically adjusts the offline state based on current network connectivity.  – Ok, so Mac isn’t worthy of this too?  What the heck?
  • Improved New Mail Notification Alerts: New mail alerts include information such as the subject, sender and message text.  –  I think I just wet my pants (j/k).  This is a such a great idea.  Isn’t this available with Outlook?  If so, this will make my users very happy!
  • Folder Summary Popups: Mouse over a folder with new messages to see a summary of the new messages in that folder.  –  Uh huh.  Again, hopefully this will be a little easier to understand when I play with it.
  • Saved Search Folder Performance: Search results for saved search folders are now cached, improving folder loading performance.  –  Very cool.  I don’t use searches that often, but if you file all your mail and do lots of searches, this would save a ton of time, I’m sure.
  • Find As You Type  –  Good.  This is a standard feature in a lot of other apps (especially on Mac).
  • Improved Filing Tools: Recent folder menu items for moving and copying folders to recently used folders. Move / Copy again functionality.
  • Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.  –  Didn’t you cover this already?  Why list improvements to extension systems/support twice?  I guess someone’s put a ton of work into this and wants credit…it’s probably due, so good.
  • New Windows installer: Based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, the new Windows installer resolves many long-standing issues.  –  I know nothing about this system and have less than 1o people on XP, so I’m sure I won’t really notice this much.  If you’re using Windows, I assume this is an improvement…
  • MacOS X Universal Binaries  –  Beautiful!  No more rosetta for my Macbook users!

Rumbling Edge has a more detailed list of notable bug fixes.

There are plenty of things I can think of that I hope are included in the 2.0 version…like improved filtering…but I digress.  I’m going to play with the beta tomorrow and I’ll post some screen shots and reviews then.

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