Download Thunderbird 5.0b1

Frustrated by the wait for a major new version of Thunderbird? It’s been 18 months since the last major revision, but you won’t have to wait as long for future releases to skip by: Mozilla has moved Thunderbird to the same rapid release cycle as Firefox, which means expect new version numbers every three months or so.

This move explains why there won’t be any Thunderbird 4: the program will share the same version number as Firefox’s browser engine (gecko), which it shares.

Like Firefox, future updates will be quicker, but won’t be as major. Anyone expecting the same kind of major revamp seen in Firefox 4 will be disappointed here, but there are some new features worthy of mention in this 5.0b1 release: improved email account wizard, better and more versatile tab handling, and a brand new Add-ons Manager and extensions management API. There’s also a new troubleshooting information page (accessible from the Help menu) that contains key information about your individual Thunderbird setup to aid fixing problems that may occur.

There are other minor improvements too – such as the fact attachments now display with file sizes – along with a host of unspecified bug fixes. Thunderbird 5.0b1 is also a landmark release for Mac users, dropping PowerPC support and focusing exclusively on Intel-powered Macs.

Note this is the first public beta of Thunderbird 5.

Evolution rather than revolution is the buzzword for Thunderbird, but all the improvements are welcome, nonetheless.

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