I just tried the release candidate for the next generation of Mozilla’s Thunderbird desktop email program. Tbird 2 has some nifty new features, including tagging, phishing detection, and a nifty little popup summary display of recent message information when you hover over a folder with new messages.
Perhaps one of the features that will be most appreciated is pre-configured setups for reading Google Mail and .Mac mail, though Thunderbird doesn’t appear to see tags on Gmail messages (probably because it’s not part of the metadata that the antiquated POP protocol supports – maybe that will change when/if Google adds IMAP access). I also like the little toggle on the folder display that hides the folders that don’t contain unread messages – it’s almost as handy as Pine’s Incoming Folder collection (a ridiculously useful concept that I can’t believe hasn’t become commonplace in all email programs).
I still bemoan the lack of a real IMAP expunge command – you still have to “compact folders” to get rid of messages that have been marked for deletion.
And I have gotten completely hooked on the way Apple’s mail program knows that when you have messages sorted with the newest at the top, if you delete a message the cursor should move up to the newer message on top (if there is one) instead of down to older messages. I haven’t seen other mail programs emulate that simple, but smart, behavior.
At any rate, it looks like this is a solid advance for a popular desktop email client. On a related note, Wired has an interview with Thunderbird lead engineer Scott MacGregor where he talks about the continued relevance of desktop email clients:
Wired News: With seemingly every aspect of our data moving toward online apps and away from the traditional desktop model, why is Mozilla still interested in a desktop e-mail client?
Scott MacGregor: We believe the Thunderbird experience is better for moderate to heavy e-mail use. It’s much easier to process incoming mail — anyone who’s had to use web mail on vacation to deal with dozens of e-mails can testify to how tedious it can be.
Roger that, Scott!