As the Firefox web browser has grown in popularity, speed, and sophistication over the years, another Mozilla product has stagnated: Thunderbird. Version 2.0 of the open-source e-mail client came out in April 2007, and until last night, that was the latest stable release—minus a few security patches, of course.
At long last, Mozilla Messaging has now released the final version of Thunderbird 3.0, the first major Thunderbird update in over two-and-a-half years. This release is now freely downloadable for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in 49 different languages, and it beckons new users with a whopping 2,000 improvements.
Highlights include a new tabbed interface that mirrors Firefox's, a powerful filtered search feature, a message archiving system, "Smart Folders" (which tie into the new search and filtering tools), a "one-click Address Book" feature (usable by clicking a star icon in messages), new activity and add-on managers, a new account setup wizard, improved Gmail support, and more.
Mozilla Messaging has based Thunderbird 3.0 on the latest version of the Gecko rendering engine, 1.9.1, which also powers Firefox 3.5. The interface has gotten a revamp, too, and it should now look more at home in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X. Not only that, but everything seems to feel snappier than in Thunderbird 2.
You can peruse the Mozilla Messaging website for a screenshot-laden overview of some of the new features and more detailed release notes. The new e-mail software can be downloaded here, and a complete list of all available variants can be found on this page.