The new Thunderbird offering comes some six weeks after the equivalent version 1.5 of Mozilla's Firefox browser debuted. Some of the new features made available in Thunderbird today are common to both new pieces of software.
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Like Firefox, Thunderbird now features an automated update tool, where previously users had to download bug fixes manually. This may reduce the amount of data which needs to be downloaded for each update.
The e-mail client can also now handle podcasts and has improved support for the RSS content feeds which allows these audio files to be distributed. Those with limited storage space will enjoy the new ability to delete attachments from stored e-mail.
The increasing threat of e-mail scammers has provoked Mozilla to include a built-in detector to stop fake e-mails known collectively as 'phishing' attempts. Thunderbird users can also now set their client to spell-check their text as they type it.
Some of the more technical aspects of the new software include support for authenticating with the Kerberos protocol, integration with server-side spam filtering, and automatic saving of draft messages during composition.
A more complete list of improvements can be found here.
Despite all the work done by Mozilla on the e-mail client in the approximately 13 months since version 1.0 was released, Thunderbird still lacks several key features found in alternative software like Microsoft's Outlook. For example, Thunderbird as yet has no calendaring functionality, despite the existence of a separate Mozilla project dubbed 'Lightning' designed to bridge this gulf.
Version 1.5 of Thunderbird does also not include some experimental work recently done on the e-mail client to include tabbed browsing of e-mail messages. That addition mimicks one of the most popular features of the Opera and Firefox Web browsers.
According to Mozilla, Thunderbird has been downloaded more than 18 million times since its initial 1.0 release. The e-mail client can be downloaded from Mozilla's Web site and distributed freely. It is is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It is generally available in more than 30 languages, although some languages have not yet completed the translation process for the new version.