Thunderbird joins Firefox with rapid release

Firefox's open-source e-mail sibling and Outlook alternative Thunderbird gets bumped to version 5, incorporating nearly 400 fixes and skipping "version 4" entirely.

Stability and bug fixes marked yesterday's debut of Thunderbird 5, which like its better-known relation Firefox has adopted a rapid-release cycle. Version-number hawks will notice that Thunderbird 5, available to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, has skipped version 4 entirely so it can keep pace with Firefox. The new Thunderbird also follows some of Firefox's feature leads by incorporating version 5 of the Mozilla Gecko engine, supporting dragging to reorder tabs, and adding the in-tab add-on manager that launched in Firefox 4 back in March.

A view of Thunderbird Conversations.
A view of Thunderbird Conversations. (Credit: Mozilla)

By and large, the Thunderbird 5 release is more about keeping pace than forging ahead. The highlights of the release are not ground-breaking. The program will launch faster, Mozilla said in a blog post, and the company has also streamlined the account creation wizard for faster e-mail setup. File size will now be included next to e-mail attachment icons, and plug-ins support RSS feeds by default.

Two platform changes include theme fixes for Windows 7 and Vista, while Thunderbird 5 has dropped support for PowerPC on Macs. This follows the end of PowerPC support in version 4 of Firefox.

Also of note are significant improvements to the Thunderbird Conversations add-on. This extension, originally known as Gmail Conversation View, gives Thunderbird a Gmail feel, with e-mail organized along subject threads instead of solely by time stamp. Conversations makes it easy for those who are queasy about using Google's Web-based e-mail service to still get its unique management system.

Read the full changelog for Thunderbird 5 here.