Mozilla Leaves Thunderbird In The Hands Of Its Users

    July 9, 2012
    Zach Walton
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Birds are hard to take care of. I would never wish the duty of cleaning up after one of them, especially parrots, on anyone. Imagine all the work Mozilla must go through to take care of the terrifying Thunderbird. What’s that? Thunderbird is not a real bird, but just a personalized email client. Even so, there comes a time when one has to cut their losses and just let the birds go to fend for themselves.

Mozilla announced last week that they would be handing off development of Thunderbird to the users. In a blog post, Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, said that “continued innovation in Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla’s product efforts.” What does that mean? They will continue to provide support, but any further development is being left up to the users.

To kickstart the process of handing Thunderbird over to the users, Mozilla will roll out the Extended Support Release of Thunderbird. Similar to Microsoft’s own Extended Support plans for older versions of Windows, Mozilla will continue to provide security updates through this version.

Developers interested in keeping up with Thunderbird and taking it to the next level should stay tuned to Mozilla’s page on Thunderbird developments. The non-profit will be releasing a new version of Thunderbird ESR on November 20. From that point on, it will be up to developers to create new features for Thunderbird.

While one can interpret this as the beginning of the end for Thunderbird, it could be a glorious new beginning for the open source email client. Depending on community involvement, it could become bigger and better than it ever was. It’s unfortunate that Mozilla didn’t think it was worth investing in anymore, but it’s probably for the best. As Baker said, they set out to be an innovative and open source Internet messaging client, but never fully achieved that goal. It’s better for them to focus on Firefox and Firefox OS and leave legacy software in the hands of the users.

  • Charles Small

    As far as I know, Thunderbird has a unique, by innocuous feature that makes it a must use: Local Folders. You can plug and unplug e-mail accounts willy nilly. But if you take a few minutes to try out all the tabs on each new accounts wizard, you can redirect each accounts’ Sent, Draft, Junk, and Archived to the same Local folder. Of course our Address Book persists too. Think about it. Is that cool or what?

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz Digby

    Thunderbird already is Opensource!
    Surely that means its being developed by its users!

    As the article says, its probably the start of the end for Thunderbid.

    Which is a shame fro me as I use it.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/zach-walton Zach Walton

      Thunderbird is open source which means that anybody can take the source code and add new features to it. The email client has numerous user-made extensions that add extra capabilities. That being said, security fixes and major updates all came from Mozilla. This move makes it so that Mozilla will still provide security fixes, but its up to the users to start adding new features if they so wish.

  • Val

    This is absurd and it makes me very angry. I’d PAY for Mozilla to fix this program (which I’ve been fighting with for at least the last year and a half – partly due to changing ISPs). I’m just hearing this news on the last day of September 2012 – I consider myself “tuned in” to tech news. Considering how often I’ve been on the Mozillazine and Mozilla Support pages, you’d think I’d have seen this news prior to today.

    Touche to the guy who’s taking on the Thunderbird Address Book at the moment.

    I’ll bet there are MANY Thunderbird users out there who haven’t heard this news yet, either. Not happy. Not happy at all.