The decision on which mail application will be installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 has been taken.

And the answer is a “we’ll see.”

A strong case for switching the default e-mail application from Evolution to Thunderbird was given at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, with a provisional decision in switching to it for Oneiric, subject to a set of criteria being met made.

Evolution has been the default e-mail application in Ubuntu since its first release.

“A tie”

The “tie” between the application will see the first few alphas of Ubuntu 11.10 shipping Evolution as default e-mail application, with work on tailoring Mozilla Thunderbird to the Ubuntu experience progressing in the intervening time.

A final decision on whether Thunderbird is included will be made in light of this progress.

Back in November of last year we ran a poll asking readers what e-mail application they used. Over 7000 people voted, with ‘Thunderbird’ coming out top of the vote amongst the listed applications with 33%. Evolution came second with 21% of the vote.

The chosen application will also be the default in Ubuntu 12.04. Anyone with a strong opinion can install their preference as both will remain available.

No decision

The way ‘Evolution’ works adheres to other GNOME applications. Thunderbird is slightly different, delivering an inconsistent interface. This ‘consistency in interface’ was considered very important.

Major “blocks” to Thunderbirds installation cantered around support for evolution-data-server integration; the inclusion of a desktop calendar app, user migration from Evolution to Thunderbird, CD space and and support for contacts.

One criticism of Evolution was its perceived ‘slowness’. With its IMAP having been re-written it now handles large volumes of mail much faster than before.

Evolution is considered more akin to Microsoft Outlook, but not the same. Whilst this could be of benefit, it could could lead to expectant behaviour of how it works.

Thunderbird, with its big footprint on Windows and OS X, would provide cross platform brand recognition (as is often found with VLC, Firefox, Skype) to newcomers, who may feel reassured by a familiar ‘face’ such as Thunderbird on the desktop, with design team Lead Ivanka Majic saying that it “adds value”.

Integration wise there are Thunderbird Messaging menu, Notify-OSD, Unity Launcher integration and Ubuntu one contact sync features already in development. Evolution integration into Unity already exists.

email evolution oneiric thunderbird uds-o