Mozilla is quick on its feet to meet its projected deadlines, as it has released the final version of Thunderbird 3.1. Thunderbird has been one of the most popular e-mail and messaging platforms from Mozilla. No wonder, actually, since Thunderbird offers versatile features for those who have more than one e-mail account to monitor throughout the day. And who has only one e-mail account nowadays?

For those who are already hooked with Thunderbird, new features and enhancements come with the latest release. And for those who haven’t ventured and tinkered with Thunderbird, here’s a list of features that would entice you to join many Thunderbird aficionados.

First off, using an e-mail and messaging client is a faster way of managing your e-mails. Some would argue that there’s no need for Thunderbird or Outlook even since they can easily navigate through individual tabs of their e-mail clients instead. A reasonable and very practical solution if you have at most three e-mails there. A tedious task if you’re the type who has to have everything segregated: personal e-mail, subscription e-mail, work e-mail, online banking e-mail and a host of other purposes for separated e-mails.

With Thunderbird, you can have all your e-mails in one simple application. Probably the most attractive feature it has had for quite a long time is you can view your e-mails offline. Since a copy of your e-mail is directly downloaded to your computer’s hard drive, you can access your previous messages and attachments even if your Internet connection fails.

That being said, what does Thunderbird has to offer with this update?

Interface

Thunderbird’s default interface has always been spartan from the first day of its inception. IF you’re looking for something that will jazz up your desktop, Thunderbird might not have the right pizzazz aesthetic-wise. But what’s good about the Thunderbird community is that they can easily churn out themes that can overcome this.

Navigating through it is quite easy because it has a user intuitive design much like your online e-mail clients—sans the advertisements. Thunderbird automatically blocks content that can slow down displaying your e-mail. You can easily view the content by clicking the Show Remote Content button.

In the 3.1 upgrade, the default color for a new message in the inbox has changed to a darker shade of blue. The default fonts have also changed to a larger font.

Quick Filter

Probably the most interesting addition to this updated version is the Quick Filter toolbar. Now you can easily wade through your e-mails by clicking a special button for only displaying messages that you have tagged, messages from people on your address book, messages with attachments with them, unread messages and messages that you have starred.

At the end of the toolbar you can use the search bar for specific messages containing your keyword. This process automatically opens up a new tab in Thunderbird displaying all instances of your keyword. You can further screen your search by choosing more filters.

This addition will really improve the experience with regards to plowing through months of e-mail.

Bug Fixes

Thunderbird v.3 has seen its not-so-glorious days. Many Thunderbird enthusiasts have opted to bail out of this update and re-install the prior version because of the bugs that crawled throughout its system. One apparent complaint was the never-ending indexing that they had encountered with this version. There were times when messages got re-reported and indexed in the inbox again and again, causing the inbox to fill with repetitive messages.

The Mozilla team assigned to Thunderbird development has promised that this bug and a myriad of other bugs have been dealt with.

Here comes the interesting part. Looking at new specifications required to run the newer version, it is obvious that the application has brought some heft to its resource usage.

Windows

Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Minimum Hardware

Pentium 233 MHz (Recommended: Pentium 500MHz or greater)

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP: 786 MB RAM (Recommended: 1GB RAM or greater)

Windows 2000: 256 MB RAM (Recommended: 512 MB RAM or greater)

52 MB hard drive space

Did you notice the 1 GB RAM or greater requirement there?

Improved Migration

With bugs fixed, migrating to version 3.1 from later versions can be smoother. Unlike the experience with the update from version 2.x to 3.0, Thunderbird promises that there would be less problems encountered when you update to the latest version.

You can actually keep your add-ons with the update—provided that they support the newer versions. Otherwise these add-ons will be de-activated. Other preferences and customizations you have worked on the later versions can definitely be migrated to 3.1

Bigger and Better Set Up Wizard

Thunderbird 3.1 has added default options for setting up accounts in over a hundred ISPs and mail clients. This makes setting up your accounts to work with Thunderbird easier.

As always, the best thing about Thunderbird or anything that Mozilla churns out is it’s free and can be developed by others through add-ons and extensions. But if you’re working with your Paleolithic (computer time) desktops with less than 1 GB RAM, you have every right to think about purchasing more RAM just to meet Thunderbirds specifications.

Although, upgrading to a higher capacity RAM would do great for your computer’s sluggish performance. After all, if you’re using Vista or Windows 7 almost every application that runs under it requires 1 GB as a minimum requirement.