Thunderbird 1.0 is out, but does it matter?

10 Dec ’04

I’m a relatively new Firefox user – .7 was a little buggy for me so I waited it out – but 1.0 is a superb app.  It’s also an extraordinary thing to see the cumulative effect of the development community’s work on the project, and to think how much harder (impossible?) a collaborative effort like this would have been pre-net.  A potent example of the power of the times we live in.  (Most amazing Firefox fact of the week – cpu-optimized builds – unbelievable – thanks to Dave Hyndman for pointing this out)

So I was quite excited to hear about the release of Thunderbird 1.0.  I’ve played around with it a little now, and there is no question that for what it is, it is a superior app in just about every respect.  But I’m wondering now whether, because of what it isn’t, any of that really matters for much of the potential userbase.  This is simply because Outlook’s pst file rules my system ….

It controls my mailboxes, my calendar, my contacts, and my to do list.  I sync it to my Treo.  I drag and drop email into my calendar.  I email vcards.  And so on.  I’ve believed  for a long time that MS was both the best and the worst thing that could have happened to the PIM market, and I look for feasible alternatives on a weekly basis.  But the pst file’s impact, and the network effects of Outlook’s market dominance, are going to leave Thunderbird a very small portion of the market, I think.  At least for a while.  And that’s a shame.

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