I haven’t been able to find an official release date for Mozilla Thunderbird 2, but it is definitely coming up. They are moving into the release candidate (RC) stage and from that I would guess that a release is due within a month or so. Thunderbird 1.5 had two release candidates before its final release in January 2006, which covered nearly two months in time. Thunderbird 2, however, is looking very stable so it wouldn’t surprise me to see just the one RC being made available.

Thunderbird 2

There is also a draft of the release notes available to be sure that everything is ready to go when the big day comes. We were all excited to think that there was a possibility of a tabbed interface making it into Thunderbird 2, but there is no mention of it in the What’s New list:

  • 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.
  • Visual Theme: Thunderbird 2’s theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability.
  • Session History Navigation: Back and Forward buttons allow navigation through message history.
  • Folder Views: Customize the folder pane to show favorite, unread or recent folders.
  • Easy Access to Popular Web Mail Services: Gmail and .Mac users can access their accounts in Thunderbird by simply providing their user names and passwords.
  • 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 New Mail Notification Alerts: New mail alerts include information such as the subject, sender and message preview text.
  • Folder Summary Popups: Mouse over a folder with new messages to see a summary of the new messages in that folder.
  • Saved Search Folder Performance: Search results for saved search folders are now cached, improving folder loading performance.
  • Find As You Type
  • Improved Filing Tools: Recent folder menu items for moving and copying messages 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.
  • New Windows installer: Based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, the new Windows installer resolves many long-standing issues.
  • Windows Vista Support
  • MacOS X Universal Binaries

I didn’t think there was any chance of tabs making it into the final release once the last beta was posted, but I was still optimistic. I guess it always gives us something to look forward to for Thunderbird 3 which is slated for release in Quarter 1 of 2008. Of course, that date can change at anytime since Thunderbird 2 was supposed to ship the summer of 2006 and Thunderbird 3 was supposed to be early 2007…that didn’t exactly happen though.

In an email dpotts pointed out that the Thunderbird start page (pictured above behind the About Thunderbird window) also got a few new options on it. It’s not a major change, but they did add the read/write messages. Windows Vista support wasn’t on the list before so they may have focused on that as well, but other than that I don’t think much has been added since the last pre-release version.

Download the latest Thunderbird 2 nightly build (might be unstable)