Mozilla Thunderbird 2 review
Thunderbird continues to improve, but also continues to lack the business essentials to compete with Outlook.
Review Date: 17 May 2007
Reviewed By: Davey Winder
Price when reviewed:
Just as Mozilla Firefox commands a minuscule market share compared to Internet Explorer, so the Mozilla email client lags way behind Microsoft Outlook. Lacking the maturity of Outlook and the host of "beyond email" calendaring, task and personal information management features, Thunderbird has a lot of catching up to do if it's to be taken seriously. While Mozilla is working on just such a beast, it's some way from completion.
That's not to say that Thunderbird hasn't made progress in this release, though. The new message-tagging feature replicates the categories function of Outlook, bringing the ability to flag individual messages as being work-related, personal or anything you decide to create a tag for. Tags are coloured, and once applied to a message, it too is coloured in the mail folder for easy identification. Coupled with filtering rules that can automatically categorise email upon delivery, it brings some much-needed order to Thunderbird.
Similarly, the find-as-you-type feature from Firefox has arrived and adds the same type of instant discovery as Outlook 2007. Talking of which, you can save searches to a folder containing a view of the messages rather than the messages themselves. Remote image blocking works well, plus there's an improvement to message notifications, which adds sender detail and text to the preview.
But that's where the similarity ends. There are still no calendaring or task functions, and the contacts section is a stripped-down shell of the Outlook equivalent. More seriously, the junk filtering is very poor indeed. Messages are flagged with a symbol denoting them as spam. The trouble is, Thunderbird doesn't learn well, and the false-positives keep flooding in, as does the spam itself.
The availability of numerous free add-ons to extend its features is Thunderbird's main attraction, and this might just be enough to sway the casual user. For business use, though, it's unlikely you'll be ditching Outlook anytime soon.
Author: Davey Winder
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