Mozilla has recently released a preview of its 2.0 Thunderbird email client. Like the upcoming new version of Mozilla Firefox, the changes in this Thunderbird release are not revolutionary but welcome improvements.
The first change revolves around a new tagging system to mark messages. This feature replaces Thunderbird’s current concept of labels. Thunderbird 2.0 allows you to mark messages with user-definable tags, the current rage on the web. You can define as many tags has you want and apply as many tags as you want to each message. A second new feature is several new folder views. Thunderbird 2.0 will add three new views: a view that only shows folders with unread messages, a view that shows recently accessed folders, and a view that shows your favorite folders.
Two changes were also made to Thunderbird that resemble features found in Firefox. Thunderbird now has a find-as-you-type search feature, though it only works on the contents of the currently displayed folder. Secondly, extensions and themes are now managed through one window called Add-ons.
One thing missing from this release of Thunderbird is tabbed browsing. I, at one time, tried a modified build of Thunderbird that included tabbed browsing. Like with Firefox, once you use tabbed browsing there is no going back. Hopefully we will see this soon in Thunderbird likewise.
Users have reported that Thunderbird runs faster both in startup and when retrieving messages. Additionally, it appears to be very stable. Remember though, this is pre-release software and you should make a backup of Thunderbird before installing this new version. Secondly, remember that most extensions built for Thunderbird 1.5 will not work in 2.0 preview releases without modifications.