I finally found an RSS reader that fits my application lifestyle. I’ve tried a few stand-alone RSS readers in the past, including one that runs under .NET, but none worked well for me.

All the feed readers required me to run a separate application, and most ended up showing me blog entries in such a terrible format that to read them efficiently, I had to visit the web site of the blog. I ended up dumping each of the RSS readers after a couple of days.

My solution was to “subscribe” to RSS feeds by bookmarking them in my web browser and visiting my favorite ones when I had the time. In other words, I was back to the “pull” model, defeating the whole “push” model of RSS syndication.

But Mozilla’s new email client, Thunderbird 0.8 now offers RSS feed support. The reader acts in some ways like a regular email account. You can subscribe to feeds, and tell Thunderbird how often to update the feeds. Each feed gets organized under its own folder under the RSS account.

The RSS feed reader is a good start. It really makes sense to integrate an RSS reader into an email client. In fact, I previously was considering dumping Thunderbird and going back to MS Outlook after Dion said he really likes Outlook’s NewsGator ($30) plug-in to read RSS feeds.

I have two critiques so far with the Thunderbird RSS reader. First, the formatting of many blog entries often is horrid when Thunderbird is set to display email bodies as “simplified” HTML, which I do to avoid seeing all the advertisements. I’d like to set Thunderbird to display full HTML for RSS entries but “simplified” for all other email. But so far, Thunderbird has one display setting for all accounts. Second, I’d like to be able to configure the frequency of the RSS updates on an individual basis. Some RSS feeds should be updated daily, while others I’d like to have updated hourly. Currently, all feeds are updated on the same schedule.

Even with those faults, the RSS reader is a nice addition to Thunderbird. And this is Thunderbird’s first crack at including an RSS feed reader. I should think the functionality will only get better in later releases. Thank you, Thunderbird team.