Thunderbird Gets Messages Out

By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2005-01-10 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Mozilla Foundation's free messaging client offers a good alternative to low-end e-mail clients such as Microsoft's Outlook Express, but its schedule management is lacking.

The Mozilla Foundation's Thunderbird 1.0 is a serviceable messaging application, albeit one without the group calendaring features of IBM's Lotus Notes or Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook. It's a good fit for any company looking for a cross-platform client that doesn't require advanced groupware features.



Click here to read the full review of Thunderbird 1.0.

The Mozilla Foundation's Thunderbird 1.0 is a serviceable messaging application, albeit one without the group calendaring features of IBM's Lotus Notes or Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook. It's a good fit for any company looking for a cross-platform client that doesn't require advanced groupware features.

Released last month as a free download from www. mozilla.org/thunderbird, Thunderbird combines e-mail and RSS and newsgroup readers with good search and organization tools. eWEEK Labs found this release—one of the few e-mail clients available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux—worth consideration as a client, particularly for companies that aren't using the shared calendaring and scheduling features found on messaging servers such as IBM's Lotus Domino and Microsoft's Exchange.

In terms of functionality, Thunderbird sits between a full-featured application such as Notes or Outlook and lighter e-mail-only clients such as Microsoft's Outlook Express, Qualcomm Inc.'s Eudora and Apple Computer Inc.'s Mail application. Thunderbird's message organization, anti-spam and search features, which in tests worked nearly as well as those found in Outlook and Notes, elevate the product above the basic e-mail application.

Furthermore, users can add on to Thunderbird through third-party extensions. Thunderbird's extensions make the client more directly comparable to Outlook and Outlook Express, both of which have good third-party add-in support.

The key missing features that would make Thunderbird a more useful corporate messaging client are group calendaring and schedule management capabilities. The Mozilla Foundation is working on Sunbird, a calendar application that can run separately or work with Thunderbird, Firefox and the integrated Mozilla browser application, but the current 0.8.2 version doesn't offer the integrated scheduling features we would like.

Click here to read Labs' review of Firefox.

For example, we couldn't invite other users to an event when creating it, although we could send e-mail invitations for events after they were created. And although we could subscribe to published calendars stored on a server that supports the WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) standard, Mozilla's calendar application doesn't support free-time and busy-time look-up on a server. If all users configure their calendars to automatically publish updates, it's possible to work around this problem in small workgroups.

From a management perspective, we liked the way we could group messages in Thunderbird. For example, we could group by date in the same way Outlook 2003 does. Further, we could create custom message views that function basically the same way as Outlook's saved searches do, letting us view, for example, just messages from a particular sender.

Thunderbird's Bayesian filter-based junk mail controls worked well in our tests. Even with minimal training, the controls proved effective at discerning spam from opt-in marketing messages. The inclusion of the RSS reader alone makes Thunderbird worth downloading and installing, if only because it eliminates the need to install (and pay for) a plug-in for Outlook.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.com's for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
























 
 
 
 
 
 

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