Outlook and Thunderbird

In today’s digital business environment, one of the important and official modes of communication is an e-mail system. For business client management, there are multiple different email programs available in the market. But, out of all the great systems, the two most used email client systems are – Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. Both applications have a certain level of advantages and disadvantages which makes them popular email software.

However, if you are looking for the best email software for your organization and can’t decide Which email client is better: thunderbird or outlook, then you should study the simple comparison between Outlook vs thunderbird first. That’s because both possess certain similar features like POP3, IMAP or an Exchange server, along with basic security features like spam filters and firewalls.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird is an open-source email client system introduced by Mozilla and is powered by the vast community. However, recently no new features have been created for Thunderbird as the company has halted the development of the project. Currently, only a stable version of the software is available to download. It is a completely free application to download and use by anyone. There are three different types of Thunderbird applications available for Windows 7, 8 and even for Linux operating systems. This software is easy to use and configure.

The user just has to enter their email address and password, and then the software will automatically retrieve email details from the email server data. Similarly, the user interface of the Thunderbird application is very simple and elegant. On the left sidebar, you will see the entry of your every account and subfolders of the accounts which are configured with the program. The preview window will appear by default under the inbox list in the center panel. However, the user can easily customize all the panels according to their convenience.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Thunderbird offers a few elegant features to its users. For instance, Thunderbird powers the LDAP email address so it means that if you have already sent an email to the recipient of the email address of the recipient is already saved in your contact list, then by entering the first letter of the person’s name – LDAP feature will automatically complete the rest of the address.

However, Thunderbird has a user-friendly contact list, but the application doesn’t support calendars or task lists by default. Users can indeed install the extension for calendars and task lists. Moreover, you can customize the user interface by downloading the theme extensions as per your taste. Additionally, Thunderbird supports the chat features that will enable users to converse with their business associates using Facebook Chat, Google Talk, IRC, Twitter and XMPP from the program itself.

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook

Outlook is one of the versatile email client software introduced by Microsoft. It comes with the integrated support of numerous features like calendars and task lists. Moreover, it is part of the Microsoft family, that’s why it can be easily integrated with other Microsoft products like Word, PowerPoint, etc. the Calendar feature is inbuilt with Outlook so you can receive and send meeting invitations and share your calendar with your other Outlook users to sync your appointments.

The interface of Outlook is quite simple and can be easily used by anyone with limited technical knowledge. Moreover, just like Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook allows its users where they can easily customize the Outlook desktop using different themes and extensions. Users can easily download interesting themes from the application settings and design their system as per their liking.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Well, Outlook is not at all open-source system, it is entirely owned by Microsoft, and this application isn’t free to download. However, if you have brought the entire Microsoft Office productivity suite, then you will get Microsoft Outlook with other Microsoft tools. So, if you have installed Microsoft Office, then you will likely have access to Outlook. It is very easy to set up with the auto-discovery feature, but even if you have to manually configure Outlook, then this will not take up any of your extra time as the installation wizard is simple to use.

The cherry on top, you can configure complex rules to manage your messages and automate workflow, a feature that is not supported in Thunderbird. Outlook might have the downside that it isn’t free, but apart from this software is very useful with lots of interactive features that can simplify business operations.

Major Differences Between Outlook and Thunderbird

Both email clients have their own merits and demerits,  It depends on the choice of the user what they like, their needs, customization and in the end the most important  “satisfaction”. Both email clients have their pros and cons.

Outlook and Thunderbird

Thunderbird is available for all the major platforms viz. Windows, Mac, Unix etc. while Outlook is available for Windows and Mac(Outlook 2011 version).

Thunderbird creates and stores the data in MBOX file format which can be converted to any other format including PST with the use of the converter. While on the other hand MS Outlook creates and stores data in PST format which can be converted to other formats also.

MS Outlook has Import and Export features that are helpful when we need to open some other file format in Outlook, while Thunderbird only settles with MBOX file format for emails and doesn’t have any Import/ Export features.

Both email clients support the latest protocols for IMAP, SMTP, POP and have timely updates from their developers.

Both are similar in handling spam. It’s suggested to set a rule in the Outlook client the moment you received a spam email it will move to the spam folder.


Well, if you have read out all the different points and features of Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird, then you must be pretty confused because both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. So, the real conclusion is that you should pick email clients based on your needs.

For instance, if you need secure email client software that can easily integrate with your other Microsoft Office products, then Thunderbird is not for you. But, if you are looking for free and easy to use software, then Microsoft Outlook isn’t for you. I hope you will be able to pick the correct email client software after reading out the difference between Outlook vs Thunderbird.

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Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.