Mozilla Rolls Out Thunderbird 2.0 RC1

Mozilla on Friday took the wraps off of the first release candidate of its upcoming Thunderbird 2.0 release, aimed at making organization of e-mail easier for its users.

The open-source e-mail client will be available across 35 languages on three platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. In addition, full Vista support has been built into the client for the first time.

In an interview Friday afternoon with BetaNews, Mozilla's lead Thunderbird engineer Scott McGregor said that the latest release was aimed at those who seem to "live in their inbox."


"Our focus is on helping the user organize their inbox so they can get on with their lives," he said. Many of the features included in the 2.0 release come as a direct result of requests from users for various organizational features within the client.

Users would be able to use tags and saved folders, much like the labels feature within Gmail, and the saved folders feature within Mac OS X's Mail client. This would make pulling up information on a specific topic much faster than searching by keyword.

Searching has also been enhanced. With similar "find as you type" functionality as found in Firefox, and instant search results as a query is typed. McGregor noted that many of the features requested in Thunderbird have been brought over from the popular alternative browser easily because they share the same code base.

This would also be true for the new Message History Navigation feature that adds back and forward buttons to the client. "You can browse through messages just like in a Web browser," he said. The functionality would also be independent of data type, meaning a user could switch between a RSS feed and mail message, for example.

Mozilla is also experimenting with a new webmail integration feature, and ships Thunderbird 2.0 with connectors for Gmail and .Mac out of the box. This would allow a user to easily set up either service without having to enter the technical particulars.

"This is an experiment to see if it is useful," McGregor said. "People so far have liked it, and we'll see if we can add other providers in the future."

Of the development process, Mozilla claims about 2,500 users actively download its nightly builds, with about 55,000 using the beta regularly. Outside of Mozilla itself, McGrevor estimated it had about a dozen developers actively working on code, with about another 100 active technical contributors.

McGregor also said he believed that those working on the code were likely a bit more dedicated than those testing proprietary software. He stressed not to think of Mozilla as just the company itself when talking about development. "Mozilla is the community," he said. "There is no difference."

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