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06 February 2008, 11:13

Email client Thunderbird 3 to take wing

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David Ascher, head of the now independent spinoff of Mozilla, provisionally called MailCo, has presented a rough road map for the development of the third version of the Thunderbird open source email client. In the current quarter, an alpha version is scheduled to be released followed by a beta version in the second quarter, Ascher has written in a newsgroup entry. Neither of these will contain an integrated calendar function, which Ascher says is crucial. The calendar is planned to be included in the beta versions scheduled for release in the third quarter. A "widely useful" version of Thunderbird 3, which will possibly be a release candidate, is to follow in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Asher's goal is to make Thunderbird more widely used. He says that many potential users have yet to switch because Thunderbird, unlike Microsoft's Outlook, does not contain a calendar or sophisticated search functions. In addition, he says that a number of "scary bits" have accumulated in the Thunderbird code base over the years and adds that the software is currently not able to keep up with the quick further development of platforms. While communication platforms are popular among programmers of extensions, Ascher says that Thunderbird is not yet sufficiently optimized for them.

In addition to an integrated calendar function, based on the latest code from the Lightning project, and a more powerful search function, Ascher says that user friendliness will be improved overall. In September of 2007, Ascher took the helm at Mozilla's subsidiary, which handles the email client. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker said that the spinoff had become necessary to allow Firefox developers to concentrate on their work. A special Wiki has been set up for Thunderbird 3.


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