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Almost one year ago Eudora announced that it was going to start using Thunderbird as the backend for its popular email client. After all that time the first installment of Eudora 8, labeled as Beta 1 (codename Penelope), has been released. So what distinguishes this from Thunderbird…not much for right now:

  • Group Selection – What you do is hold down the Alt key (Windows, Linux)/Option key (Mac), and then click on a a particular piece of info in a message summary (e.g. the Sender’s name). Penelope will then select all the messages in that mailbox that match the particular item clicked on (e.g. if “Joe Smith” was clicked on, then all messages from “Joe Smith” will get selected), and the messages will gravitate toward the clicked on message.
  • Type to Select – If you just start typing text in a mailbox, then Penelope will match the typed-in text to words in the Who and/or Subject columns.
  • Customizable Toolbar
  • Eudora Keybindings – Familiar shortcut keys for existing Eudora users.
  • Improved Eudora Importing – You can import your existing Eudora profile without too much trouble.
  • Appearance and Sounds – I’m not a huge fan of the dated Eudora icons, but as you can see in the screenshot above they are clearly there.

This is still considered to be an early release of Eudora 8, and it only contains the bare minimum that they believe is needed for Eudora users to feel comfortable. Here are some of the features that the 6-member team will be introducing later on:

  • Major UI Elements
  • Unique Eudora message handling operations
  • Stationery
  • Import for all settings

If you don’t want to download the standalone Eudora 8 (for both Mac and Windows) there is always the Thunderbird extension that is supposed to add a more familiar UI along with many of the Eudora shortcuts. Honestly though I don’t think too many users will be switching away from Eudora 7 as it stands right now…for that to happen Eudora users would have to say farewell to the Multiple Document Interface (like what Opera has).

I also wonder how the Eudora team feels about Mozilla’s decision to “distance itself” a bit from Thunderbird?

Thanks for the tip edwest!