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Mozilla Ditching Thunderbird?

Friday, August 17th, 2007 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help

I’ve been hearing some rumors lately about Mozilla cutting ties with Thunderbird. Is any of it true? Do you have any extra information about it? If so, please share it with us!

Yes, you’re absolutely right. For almost a month now, there has been a lot of buzz going around over what’s going to happen between the Mozilla company and the Thunderbird e-mail client. Mozilla has been the parent company of Thunderbird since its beginning, but it seems as if all of that is going by the wayside now. From what I’ve heard, the rumors are true, but there are several reasons why this is happening. I’m going to go over all of that with you right now. So, if you’re an avid Thunderbird user, you’re going to want to listen up to this!

First, I’d like to give you a quote from Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker. He said, “We have concluded that we should find a new, separate organizational setting for Thunderbird; one that allows the Thunderbird community to determine its own destiny.” Basically, in real terms, the Mozilla company is too busy promoting the Firefox Web browser and all of the new content that comes along with it. So, in the mean time, Thunderbird is, in a way, being pushed out of the spotlight and the e-mail program is just not a top priority for Mozilla any longer.

Now, although it seems as if Mozilla is ditching Thunderbird, they haven’t let it all go to waste. Baker said that they have put together a few options for what the e-mail program can go on and do from here on out. And here they are:

1.) Create a new non-profit organization just for Thunderbird. It will be similar to the Mozilla Foundation, but it will be called the Thunderbird Foundation instead. If Thunderbird goes on to generate a revenue on its own, they could create a subsidiary. This option will give Thunderbird the most independence, but it’s also a very complex plan.

2.) Create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation just for Thunderbird. This one is a little more simple, but it will still require Thunderbird to be its own company, while still carrying out the mission of the Mozilla Foundation. This option will also require some of the Mozilla board members to be involved with Thunderbird and what it does, which may still lead to less focus and less flexibility.

3.) Release Thunderbird as a community project, much like the SeaMonkey all-in-one suite. With this option, a small independent consulting company will need to be formed and the Thunderbird developers will have to continue on with development of the program and still provide customer support for the users. Several open source projects use this model type, but it’s still a concern as to whether or not it’s right for Thunderbird itself.

Now, I’m not sure what you’re thinking, but my understanding is that Thunderbird is just not bringing in the kind of money that Mozilla wants right now. On the other hand, Firefox is doing quite the opposite and that’s why Mozilla wants to put more focus on the Web browser at this time. From some other things that the CEO (Baker) has said, it sounds like Mozilla doesn’t want to forget about an e-mail client all together, but for the time being, they feel it’s the right thing to do for their Foundation. Unfortunately, these days, everything has to be about money.

It seems as if Thunderbird has been struggling in other areas lately as well. For example, they have fallen below MS Outlook because of its lack of calendar support. And even though Thunderbird is in the process of working on a new calendar feature, users are turning to other programs that better meet their needs. Because of all of that, Thunderbird has slightly fallen off into its own little world and it’s just not getting the attention it requires anymore.

Now, I know a lot of you are Thunderbird users, so this may come as a shock to you, but you have to keep hope that Thunderbird will be able to stand on its own when all of this has cleared up. Luckily, it seems like there are some open options for Thunderbird, so hopefully we’ll all be able to enjoy it again one day. Things may change a little, but where would we be without change, right?! Either way, I hope this information was helpful to you. Enjoy it!

~ Erin

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