Thunderbird 3 – Beta 3

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Mozilla Corporation has recently released the third Beta for it’s upcoming incarnation of Thunderbird 3, an open source email client.

Thunderbird since it’s initial release has been considered a good alternative to Microsoft’s Outlook Express, being that it is a light weight email client which is secure, provides advanced spam filtering protection and can be extended with a considerable number of plug-ins.

Thunderbird over the last few years though has been in what I consider a state of decline, with a number of core TB Beta 3 pic3 developers leaving the project and no clear road map on what the software should be, it was beginning to look as if Thunderbird was almost destined to fade into irrelevance.

But over the last year the project has regained a considerable amount of ground with a lot of new interest in it’s development coming from a variety of different sources.

One particular source is Open Office Org which is considering using a further developed Thunderbird Calendar extension as part it’s Open Office application. Additionally the Eudora email client is now being developed using the base code from Thunderbird to further extend it’s functionality and is due to be released as open source software either as a plug-in or stand alone application in the not too distant future.

With the recent success of Firefox 3, Mozilla Corporation has also refocused some of it’s development team into creating a new road map for Thunderbird, outlining further what it wants to achieve with the email client. Mozilla’s refocus has also recognised the importance of Thunderbird to the Mozilla brand and is now investing considerably more in the long term development and success of the Thunderbird platform.


TB Beta 3 pic7 

TB Beta 3 pic8

Default Theme For Thunderbird 3 Beta 3b

Long Term Goals

Mozilla is rumoured to have made a plans to increase the functionality of Thunderbird by raising the programs standard to that of modern fully fledged Personal Information Management suite (PIM). This is most likely to occur across several releases with the end result being a product that will begin to rival Outlook or Lotus Notes.

For the upcoming release it would seem that Mozilla are focusing on improving the program the the extent that it will meet all of the criteria of a modern email client combined with the built in functionality of a Calendar, Contact and Tasks.


TB Beta 3 pic2 

TB Beta 3 pic6

Silvermel Theme For Thunderbird 3 Beta 3b


One of the main changes is the ability to access Email, Calendar and Task lists through Tabs rather than opening new windows. This is done in a similar fashion to the way both Lotus Notes & Firefox manage tabs, with the influence being more pronounced by the latter.

Another recent change is the increase in resolution & scalability of the program front end to a High Definition standard. Visually this is a massive improvement and now makes it easy for anyone running a High Definition monitor to get the most out of the application.    

Additionally some of the buttons have been moved in the program, for example the Calendar and Task button now sit on the far right of Tab bar instead of at the bottom of the screen.

A lot of changes have also been made under the hood including improved IMAP capabilities, a clean up of the source code, better global search options and improved API’s for extension developers.

List of some the main new features included in the recent beta are:

* New Message Summary View

* Column Headings

* Smart Folders

* Improved Gmail Integration

* Tabs for Email, Calendar & Tasks


TB Beta 3 pic9

TB Beta 3 pic5



Considering that Thunderbird 3 is still in beta, It has already achieved significant progress in terms of creating a new product and goes along way to improve upon Thunderbird 2 both visually and in terms of functionality.

It’s not perfect and there are still plenty of things to do but considering that this is not yet the finished product, I’m very impressed with the progress made so far.


If your interested in trying the beta follow this link:


Additional links for Lightning Calendar pre 1.0 are located at:



I’ve also put together some ideas on how the current beta and possible future releases could be improved, they’re currently posted over at the developers Google Group if anyone happens to take an interest:


Hope you enjoyed the article!


Dragonblogger said...

I was using a plug-in for thunderbird to add mail and tasks, would love to see it equal Outlook in functionality by default.

bobski said...

I think most people would like to see Thunderbird give Outlook a good run for it's money...
Whilst Outlook certainly isn't a bad piece of software, its constant security problems tend to be something of burden + when you use Microsoft products your hands are generally tied as to what you can actaully do with the software...
I'm hoping Thunderbird will be brought up a professional standard over the next few releases, so that many people and companies can escape the Microsoft trap and save some money in the process....