Thunderbird 3 Alpha sneaks onto web

May 16, 2008 // 1:13 p.m.

Tags: #alpha #e-mail #e-mail-client #firefox #mozilla #mozilla-messaging #shredder-alpha-1 #thunderbird

If you're looking for an e-mail client to match your Firefox 3 Beta 5 installation, then say hello to Shredder Alpha 1.

Shredder Alpha 1 is the first preview of what will eventually become Thunderbird 3. Built on top of the same layout engine Mozilla uses for Firefox 3, Gecko 1.9, the next-generation message client promises a fresh look and some snazzy new features.

First among them is an in-built Add-ons Manager, which allows – you guessed it – easy browsing and installation of Thunderbird extensions. While this is a pretty neat feature, you'll be hard pushed to get any use out of it at the moment – very few add-ons have been updated to work with Shredder.

Mac users can enjoy the benefits of Shredder being a native Cocoa application, and the ability to read contact information from Mac OS X's built-in Address Book – although this is disabled by default.

The search functionality has been tweaked too, with fewer false positives when searching a large body of e-mail and improved accuracy in multilingual installations. If you're looking for a speed boost, improvements to the Javascript implementation means that the latest build flies along pretty well.

All these improvements do come at a cost, however: Shredder Alpha 1 doesn't support any version of Windows prior to Windows 2000. Nor does it work with Mac OS versions prior to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Even if your operating system is supported, it's still not all plain sailing – remember that Shredder is not only still in the alpha stage of development, but is in its first Alpha release. Do not install this release in a production environment, and don't use it as your main e-mail client. Seriously.

That said, if you're desperate to see how the next generation of Thunderbird is shaping up, you can grab the installer for Shredder Alpha 1 for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux at the Mozilla Messaging site.

Is anyone going to trust their important communications to an alpha build, or are you sticking with Thunderbird 2 for now? Do you use a completely different application for e-mail? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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