Thought the M3 roadworks took a while? Five years on, Vivaldi opens up a technical preview of its email client

Take the M3 exit to offline mail and calendar shenanigans

It's been a while coming, but browser maker Vivaldi has finally released a public preview of its long awaited email client.

"It arrives," wrote Vivaldi boss Jon von Tetzchner, "just ahead of Thanksgiving as a way of saying 'thanks for waiting'."

And goodness, it has been a while coming. Back in 2015, the browser makers confirmed: "A robust, efficient, lightweight and good looking email client called M3 is to be integrated into Vivaldi." And the faithful waited, patiently.

Over the years, various company representatives have confirmed to us that the client existed, but none would commit to a release date. And now here we are.

Dubbed by some as M3 (likely in tribute to the long abandoned Opera Mail client, known as M2) the technical preview is not a separate stand-alone application, but is built into the Vivaldi browser itself. Getting it working requires the downloading of snapshot 2115.4 of the browser and the enabling of the functions via vivaldi://experiments.

Once done, it's a relatively straightforward experience. As well as the mail client, the feature includes a feed reader and a calendar. The former integrates with the existing IMAP/POP3 service, while the latter hooks up via CalDav.

The use of such a client means one does not need to fire up something like Gmail's web interface to collect one's mail.

Assuming, of course, one can get Gmail integration working. We had a crack at it and failed pretty much at the first hurdle with a blocked message from Google. Von Tetzchner remarked: "Hopefully Google will enable access soon. It is kind of absurd that they do this, but we have contacted them again about this issue. Gmail is working fine for those of us that have been using M3 with it during the development period, but they put this limit in place and they need to lift it."

At present the number of accounts that can be logged into Gmail IMAP and Google CalDAV with Vivaldi's client at any one time is limited to 100. "Google," Vivaldi said, "has (after 9 months) still not approved our account access Consent Screen."

Still, this is a technical preview after all. Time remains to iron out the wrinkles.

The email client did, however, seem pretty complete and stable when used with non-Google email and calendar accounts. Multiple accounts can be added, and offline searches are snappy enough. Different mailbox views are supported, as well as IMAP folders and message queuing. The Mail client also includes a feeds section for subscription fans and the Calendar supports day, week, multi-week or month views of upcoming events.

It's a neat tool, and one that will be welcomed by users of the company's browser and those that miss the old Opera Mail client. Many, however, will have made the move to something like Thunderbird by now if an offline email client is their thing, or will already be rolling with one of the web mail clients available.

As for a final release, Vivaldo said the new toys "require a fair bit more polish and hence will not be finished and ready in time for the release of Vivaldi 3.5 stable," although they can still be activated via the experiments page. Builds for Windows, macOS and Linux are available as well as ARM32 and ARM64 under Linux (although the latter pair have an "unsupported" health warning). ®

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