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Mozilla Thunderbird Final Is Near

Officials at the Mozilla Foundation are getting ready to release the final version of Thunderbird 1.0 next week, officials said Friday.

That word comes just two days after the open source organization -- more popularly known for development of the standalone Firefox Web browser -- released a preview Thunderbird 1.0 release candidate (RC) of its standalone e-mail client.

According to a Mozilla spokesperson, the organization is reluctant to announce a set-in-stone release date because, as an open-source project, there might be last-minute fixes or enhancements that necessitates a delay.

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Thunderbird is a cross-platform, free e-mail client with many of the same features found in premium, proprietary e-mail applications. To date, officials say Thunderbird .9 and the 1.0 RC have garnered just over one million downloads.

Because it's open source, Thunderbird gives developers the chance to access and modify the application's source code using third-party "extensions" that allow for custom-built modifications to the base functionality -- a selling point that's proven popular for Firefox users.

Thunderbird code is based on the Mozilla suite, a combination e-mail, IRC and newsgroup client and HTML editor.