The updated calendar extension for Thunderbird, Lightning 0.1, is on the streets. Developers say it’s more stable than previous efforts… supports WebDAV and CalDAV remote sync protocols… and is less likely to eat your data than ever before.
User reactions are upbeat, but they insist on more Outlook-like group scheduling and coordinating, as these users comments on the Lightning Suggestions wiki demonstrate:
- “Shared calendar functionality, similar to how Outlook’s calendar works with M$ Exchange - So users can share a sort-of Global calendar and see each others events.”
- “Not having an integrated calendar/appointment feature is what keeps many of my friends and colleagues from switching over from Outlook to Thunderbird.”
- “Delayed sending of emails by using date/time of a Calender dropdown (similar to Outlook) should be included.”
Another grand desire naturally centers around Microsoft Exchange. One user helpfully suggests that Novell’s freshly open-sourced Exchange connector may clear the road to a total replacement for the Microsoft Outlook-Exchange dynamo.
Beyond that, PDA and cell phoners want whatever device each is using synchronized immediately.
And everybody wants tabs. Email tabs… newsfeed tabs… calendar tabs.
Although we haven’t had time to thoroughly vet the effort, our initial impressions are positive. If we had our druthers, we’d like to see Lightning add drag n’ drop for email-to-calendar, and vice versa. That, and smaller icons.
Meanwhile, Lightning developers are working toward better linkage between tasks and email, iMIP meeting invitation support, and better CalDAV support. Device synchronization isn’t likely to happen till after the release of 0.2.
Are Outlook’s days numbered? Not a chance. Unlike Internet Explorer, maintaining the email client has been a Redmond priority for some time. The loss of Outlook’s market dominance would undoubtedly threaten Exchange as well. And for Redmond, that’s simply unacceptable.
Nevertheless, an extension-enhanced Thunderbird/Lightening client does open new possibilities for that bulk of Exchange 5.5 orphans who are still looking for a new, lighter-weight email client/mailserver combination. Outlook’s vulnerabilities include price, size, limited extensions and the new versions of Exchange.
As we’ve noted before (and below), there are plenty of eager mailserver vendors salivating for a pliable Outlook-alike. And the new Thunderbird with Lightning looka like it might filla the bill.
Email Battles Backgrounder:
- Wolves Circle As Exchange Nears Death(Revised 6 December 2005); Email Battles; 06 December 2005
- Bloated Exchange 12 Begs For Atkins; Email Battles; 22 November 2005
- Exchange SP2 Gotcha: Super-Sized Email; Email Battles; 10 November 2005
- Outlook 2003 Looks Like A Porker; Email Battles; 11 February 2004
- Linux growth stunted without Outlook?; NewsByte; Email Battles; 01 December 2005
- New Mirapoint Message Server aims at Outlook-less Organizations; NewsByte; Email Battles; 30 November 2005