The Gmail effect: Mozilla backs off Thunderbird development

Although Mozilla is most prominently known as the developer of Firefox - one of the world’s most popular and widely-used browsers - the company has also worked on another product: Thunderbird, an e-mail client with a bundle of other features. It’s an open-source product available for a number of platforms such as Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. The product has been under development since 2003, but according to a blog post by Mitchell Baker, the Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla might be easing off on Thunderbird's development. The focus on Thunderbird seems to be more about stability and less on innovation from here on. Mozilla plans to give out security updates for the process using an Extended Support Release, which is basically for organizations that use Thunderbird as an e-mail client on their PCs.

Now left to the Thunderbird community

Now left to the Thunderbird community



Thunderbird's development would left to the community, the blog says, and welcomes developers who would be part of the movement. Mozilla has tried to push Thunderbird as a product of the future by trying to innovate, but has not met any significant success. Thunderbird was started off a project when developers working on Firefox were also working on Thunderbird, but now those developers would be moving back to the main Mozilla group. The announcement has resulted in all kinds of feedback. Some agreed that the move was a good strategy by Mozilla to focus their efforts on more lucrative and high priority areas, while others said they preferred desktop e-mail clients to web-based ones and that this was a big mistake by Mozilla.


Mozilla also has a separate project called Seamonkey that is a complete suite of a web browser, e-mail and messaging client bundled with an HTML editor. If Mozilla has decided to turn down the development on Thunderbird a notch, it could also do the same with Seamonkey, which is even less popular and has a lower number of users than Thunderbird.


Mozilla has a lot going on of late; Firefox and Thunderbird were recently switched to rapid release cycles, where quick updates are sent across to clients every month or so. Mozilla has been releasing updates in quick succession, which means that only a few but distinct  changes are made. The latest stable versions of both products is version 13.


The shift in resources and priority is likely to be due to Firefox OS, a mobile operating system that’s slated to arrive on devices sometime in 2013. Mozilla had been working on the "Boot to Gecko" project, which is basically a mobile operating system that is based on the web and HTML5. Mozilla recently announced that the mobile operating system would be a part of the Firefox brand and will be titled Firefox OS.

Published Date: Jul 07, 2012 02:20 pm | Updated Date: Jul 07, 2012 02:20 pm