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Ingrid Marson

Special to CNET

The Mozilla Foundation has released the first version of Sunbird, its standalone calendar application, for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Sunbird 0.2 offers various features, including the ability to create scheduled events and to see an overview of events on a particular day, week or month. The calendar can be shared by publishing it to a WebDAV (World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning)-capable server. WebDAV is a set of extensions to the basic HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) underlying the Web, enabling people to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote Web servers.

The Sunbird application is available for download on Mozilla’s Web site.

Although Sunbird is a standalone calendar application, the Mozilla Foundation has started a project to integrate it with Thunderbird. The project, code-named Lightning, is scheduled for its first general release in the middle of 2005, according to the Mozilla Web site. The integration of the applications could take on Microsoft’s widely used Outlook software.

However, according to some postings on the MozillaZine news site, some consumers don’t believe that Sunbird is a viable alternative to Outlook just yet.

While Mozilla’s Firefox browser has advantages over Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Sunbird and the Thunderbird e-mail application need extra features before companies can consider them as an alternative to Outlook, one user said.

Firefox “beats IE hands down, but no serious business users can switch from Outlook to (Thunderbird or Sunbird) because of numerous usability issues,” according to the posting. “If all you want is the e-mail functionality, Thunderbird is fine. I use it for that, but I can’t get anybody who likes the calendar, reminders, etc., to switch from Outlook still.”

But Mozilla contributor David McGuinness pointed out that Sunbird is not currently aimed at corporate users.

“Sunbird is still in the early stages of development and is certainly experimental software,” McGuinness said. “Nonetheless, Sunbird is a promising application for those already using Thunderbird or Firefox.”

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.