thunderbird 3 tabs.png

I can’t say that I was expecting this today, but I’m happy to report that Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0 Alpha 1 (codenamed Shredder) has been released. This version does of course have tabs, and as seen in the screenshot above you can open new messages in tabs for easy navigation. That’s definitely a feature I’ve been waiting for, but now I wish you could actually compose a message in a new tab as well.

Mozilla Links also pointed out that this version uses Gecko 1.9, which means you’ll get the same performance improvements that can already be found in pre-release versions of Firefox 3. That is definitely some great news because Firefox 3’s memory usage and performance are much better than any previous release.

Here are some of the other things that are new in Thunderbird 3 Alpha 1:

  • The new Add-ons Manager (Tools > Add-ons) can now be used to download and install a Thunderbird customization from the hundreds of Add-ons available from our community add-ons website. When you first open the Add-ons Manager, a list of recommended Add-ons is shown.
  • The address book can now read data from Mac OS X’s system Address Book, but that feature is currently disabled by default. To enable it, see this blog entry
  • New Crash Reporter (Breakpad) to report crashes in Thunderbird.
  • Searching bodies of messages no longer produces as many false positives and has become more accurate in some multilingual situations.
  • Improvements to our JavaScript engine have resulted in continued improvements in performance.
  • On the Mac, Thunderbird is now a native Cocoa application.

One thing I was shocked to see was that the Lightning calendar add-on hasn’t been integrated yet, which is something they are planning to do. I’m sure a future version will incorporate it, and it will make the email client even more valuable for those who don’t go hunting around for add-ons. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this doesn’t get yanked from their to-do list.

Now it’s full steam ahead for Thunderbird 3.0 Alpha 2, which is slated for release in July 2008.

Note: If you plan on setting up a Gmail account you should know that the “Gmail account type” in Thunderbird 3 uses POP, not IMAP. If you want Gmail IMAP access you’ll need to manually configure it.

Thunderbird 3.0 Alpha 1: Windows | Mac OS X | Linux
Thunderbird 3.0 Alpha 1 Release Notes