Firefox has released the first iteration of an all-dancing, all encompassing messaging hub that combines twittering, RSS feeds, Facebook and IM into one nice little plugin called Snowl (Snow Owl).
Version 0.1 supports two sources of messages : RSS/Atom feeds and Twitter and provides with two interfaces to read them; the first one is the usual three-pane view (think Outlook or any email client) while the second is the "river of news".
Future versions of Snowl will include support for Facebook, AIM, Google Talk etc.
Now why should that bother Microsoft? Well, Mozilla is already looking at radically changing the way people use Firefox and by bringing together all the most popular conversation tools in one nice interface, could make Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger and even Outlook Express obsolete - all in one swoop.
This is especially true given that Mozilla may also bring in Thunderbird in the picture (remember Seamonkey?) with which Snowl shares quite a lot and ultimately become an application that lies on the right hand side of the browser and could even learn to prioritise messages based on the users' action.
Snowl could also compete with the likes of Friendster which also syndicate feeds that the user follows.
You can download the 144KB prototype (that's how Mozilla calls it) here.
Obviously the plugin comes with Caveat Emptor written all over it.