Instant Messaging (IM) or basically chat in layman’s terms has become a rage over the internet today. We therefore have many clients available for Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and almost any platform you can think of. For example you can check out Nimbuzz, Pidgin, eBuddy and many more.
Thunderbird, a very popular FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is a mail client, that can both send and receIve mails, just like the commercial and expensive Outlook that comes with MS-Office. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. It is developed by Mozilla, better known for its Firefox web browsing software.
Just like Firefox, Thunderbird had also started releasing nightly builds, which were developmental releases open to the public for trying. Less than a year ago, a stable release version 6 was available, and now it has hit version 13 and the latest nightly release of Thunderbird 13 has introduced a new instant messaging feature.
The feature, which is capable of connecting to Facebook chat, Google Chat, Twitter and IRC, is aimed at ‘enriching’ the e-mail experience by leveraging instantaneous communication alongside it.
The feature has some distinct advantages. For example, you may get sent as mail quick notification from your friend and you can choose to answer him via IM rather than typing up a reply and waiting for him to read it. It’s something that Google has offered, in GMail for some time.
As development progresses we can expect to see integration between address book and IM contacts (i.e. by associating contacts with e-mails addresses), but in the current builds this isn’t quite there yet.
The build is sure to attract attention as no e-mail client has done this before i.e. integrating IM into the client. Also this may be very useful for those who are very active on social networking sites and also receive lots of mail.
Currently you can download Thunderbird 12 and then update to 13 via the update channel.