After seeing the Zune software fall a bit short of the mark with podcasting, I've been playing about with the Pre-Alpha version of Thunderbird 3, Mozilla's email client. I respect Mozilla as a software company (if you can call them that, how much money do they actually make from selling software?) because they're innovative, but what they do works, and works well. Probably due to the fact that being an open-software company, each piece of software is like a forum of ideas, unlike Microsoft these days ;)
Even though this is a pre-alpha release, it's been working for me with no problems so far (more than can be said for some companies' final releases, not mentioning any names). One thing that is really looking good, even at this early stage in the game, is the RSS reader capability, which lets you see your RSS feeds alongside your inbox - why has nobody done this before now? (OK, I know you can get extensions for Outlook to do this, but the fact of the matter is that Microsoft should have added this functionality a long time ago). When you click a post, the actual link back to the site hosting the article is opened within a Thunderbird pane, which means no more clicking "read..." links! The really surprising thing though, was how well this all worked with podcasts - the audio/video file in the enclosure just shows up as an attachment to the post, allowing you to just save it where you want on your computer. Elegant, and all you really need from something not designed specifically for podcasting. I'm sure at some point Mozilla will add some basic mp3 player functionality so you can preview episodes and play them back once downloaded, or perhaps automatically generate a playlist within Media Player/iTunes with all the received episodes from a certain podcast. I'm just throwing ideas around. Of course because it's built by Mozilla, it has the Firefox rendering engine built into it, meaning that podcasts can take advantage of full HTML formatting in the description.
Now all somebody needs to do is build a podcast directory that bolts into Thunderbird, and there's the beginnings of some fairly decent podcasting software finally!