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Thunderbird is not being discontinued. I explore some options and stick with my recommendation... for now.

Hi Leo. Now that Mozilla has announced that they are discontinuing Thunderbird, do you have a backup POP3 recommendation?

In this excerpt from Answercast #35, I look at the changes announced for Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is not discontinued

Well, first of all we need to be very, very clear on something.

  • Mozilla is NOT, NOT, NOT discontinuing Thunderbird.

What they are discontinuing is active development on major new features to Thunderbird. In other words, the Thunderbird that you and I know today is pretty much what it's going to be now for the rest of its life.

Minor fixes continue

They are still doing minor fixes, bug fixes. I'm sure they are still supporting the application as it is and they'll probably continue to support the addition of, or the ability to create, add-ons for the program.

So it is not the kind of a thing where we need to jump ship right now. Absolutely not.

I plan to keep on using Thunderbird for several more years until I actually have a reason to switch. It's working well for me.

Other POP3 programs

Now, having heard that very frustrating announcement about Mozilla's plans to decrease the amount of effort that gets put into enhancing or increasing Thunderbird's feature set, I did put some thought into other programs. Unfortunately, I did a little of research in the last couple of days. As it turns out, the number of options that are out there is significantly more limited than I thought for desktop email programs.

In fact, when it comes down to it, there's really only one that I personally would consider switching to at this point:

  • And that's Microsoft Outlook.

  • The Outlook that comes with Microsoft Office.

I say that because it's the only one that, so far, presents the feature set that I'm looking for – at least on Windows.

It still doesn't give me the full feature set that I'm looking for in that the Office Outlook that might be available on Mac isn't really the same program. I don't know if they're actually compatible. And of course, there is nothing compatible available on Linux.

Thunderbird is not discontinued

So it's a frustrating situation, but I don't think it's a reason to panic. They're not discontinuing Thunderbird. I'm hopeful that between now and maybe the day that we decide we need to switch to something else, another more viable alternative will have come up.

So Thunderbird remains my recommendation and I believe that it is safe to keep using it until something else comes along, or until I find a reason to change. I don't expect that to be for, quite literally, a few years.

I could be wrong. I could end up needing to change email programs at some point, but right now, today I just don't see it:

  • I think that Thunderbird, as it stands, even if it doesn't change at all, will remain a viable application for many years to come.

End of Answercast #35 Back to – Audio Segment

Article C5592 - July 16, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 17, 2012 3:09 AM

As a matter of interest a few alternatives and both have portable versions , Koma Mail or Dream Mail both good mail clients.

Dan Ullman
July 17, 2012 9:01 AM

I am personally all for this. I was not happy about rapid release for Firefox but for Thunderbird it was completely pointless. Let's face it, a mail client will never be all that sexy. Since it simply needs some fixes from time to time hand it back to the community except for security fixes.

Bill Holland
July 17, 2012 9:05 AM

I have been using Net@ddress for over fifteen years. Though they charge for their service, the support has been beyond parallel. And now, they use https:// exclusively for all communication activities. Makes me feel a bit more secure.

July 17, 2012 10:52 AM

I've been using Pegasus for many years and find it to be an excellent mail client that meets all my needs. Have you tried it lately?

Frank Camp
July 17, 2012 2:02 PM

I too like Thunderbird and I will stick with it. I have a 2003 version of Outlook that I keep just for Notes and to get USPS addresses into a Word envelope. My 2007 Office did not include Outlook. I wish there was a way to get mail addresses from T-Bird's address book into Word envelopes.

Karl Menzel
July 17, 2012 2:08 PM

I've been using Windows Live Mail for years now (after Outlook Express) and never had the leasy bit of problems. Gives me everything ( I feel at least ) that Outlook gives and it is a Free MS product.

Steven Latus
July 17, 2012 6:47 PM

One of the things I find really useful in Thunderbird (and what attracted me to it in the first place) is that it also handles newsgroups within the program. I don't have to launch a separate program to access my newsgroups - they're right there!

Mark J
July 17, 2012 9:47 PM

I'm not exactly sure what you want to do, but it is possible that exporting your Thunderbird address book into .csv format which and be read by MS Word and Excel might work for you.

James Ferris
July 19, 2012 12:43 AM

I've been using Eudora since the early 90s and am extremely happy with it as a professional-grade email client. There is now an open-source version still available, though support has stalled. The developers say they will be releasing a new version some time in the near future, but even as it stands, it's Much Better than Outlook - at least if you're security-conscious, and want a client able to handle any and all email messages.
I've also recommended the Opera email client. Much more basic, but still quite feature-rich.
For further information, there is a wiki page which discusses all the available email clients.

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