logo-wordmark-verticalMozilla has released new final versions of Firefox 12 and Thunderbird 12, its open source browser and email messaging tools. Neither update, despite the new version number, contains much in the way of exciting new features, but developments on future builds suggest version 13 could be a landmark release for both.

Firefox 12 introduces one notable change for Windows users — the advent of silent updates with no User Account Control dialog getting in the way, while Thunderbird 12’s headline new feature is the ability to view message extracts in global search results.

Firefox 12 is a landmark release for Windows users in that it shifts to silent updates by eliminating the need for administrator-level access to the system. This in turn removes the UAC prompt and will provide a more seamless updating mechanism in the future.

The only other notable change is a refresh to the HTML5 media controls that appear when the user browses video embedded in the page using HTML5 rather than a proprietary technology such as Adobe Flash.

Although a disappointing update in itself, future builds of Firefox, which we’ll profile in more depth in a later post, promise some radical revamps, including major changes to the user interface. These will start to appear in Firefox 13, which is currently slated to move to the Beta channel tomorrow, on April 24.

Like its cousin, Thunderbird 12 has little in the way of eye-catching new features. Those using its global search tools will, however, be pleased to see that message extracts are now displayed in the search results, while the new build also promises improvements to RSS feed subscription and general feed handling for those who use Thunderbird as a RSS reader.

The final new feature in Thunderbird 12 is support for add-ons that provide different types of local mail storage to the default Mbox format currently utilised, such as MailDir or a sqlite database. This new feature is aimed primarily at developers, but may also interest more experienced users who are frustrated by the Mbox format.

Thunderbird 13 also apes Firefox 13 in promising more radical changes, including support for sharing files via online storage rather than email attachments, and tools for leveraging IM clients including Twitter inside Thunderbird itself. To preview these new features now, check out Earlybird 13.0a2, the alpha version of Thunderbird, or wait 48 hours until Thunderbird 13 Beta is released.

Both Firefox 12 FINAL and Thunderbird 12 FINAL are available as free, open-source downloads for Windows, Mac and Linux.