Mozilla cuts down on its Thunderbird development

If you use the Thunderbird email client, you may not be getting a lot of new features from now on. Mozilla has confirmed that it will be cutting back on Thunderbird software development.

In a post on her blog, Mitchell Baker, the Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, stated:

Much of Mozilla’s leadership — including that of the Thunderbird team — has come to the conclusion that on-going stability is the most important thing, and that continued innovation in Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla’s product efforts ... As a result, the Thunderbird team has developed a plan that provides both stability for Thunderbird’s current state and allows the Thunderbird community to innovate if it chooses.

Baker added that most of Thunderbird's users seem 'happy' with its current features. She said that with the rise of web-based email solutions, " ... focusing on stability for Thunderbird and driving innovation through other offerings seems a natural choice."

Mozilla has already posted up a plan on its Wiki page that is designed to give Thunderbird users a way to contribute new features to the email client if they wish.

The first version of the platform released to the public in 2003; Mozilla said today that there are now 20 million users of the client worldwide.

Source: Mitchell Baker's blog

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TomJones said,

Outlook isn't a real option for IMAP. It does work fine with POP, though. Of course, Outlook is designed primarily as a client for Exchange, and it works best with Exchange.


erm, you havent used outlook in a while right?
Its more then fine on IMAP or POP3. Gmail just gives me IMAP, works like a charm.
Then again i use my Gmail for spam and sign ups As Live Domains gives me free exchange on my domains (dont have over 100 email adresses anyway, not even close )

Shadowzz said,

erm, you havent used outlook in a while right?
Its more then fine on IMAP or POP3. Gmail just gives me IMAP, works like a charm.
Then again i use my Gmail for spam and sign ups As Live Domains gives me free exchange on my domains (dont have over 100 email adresses anyway, not even close )

Well to be honest, IMAP didn't work that well on Outlook 2003. Firstly, it would keep displaying a send/receive error message both in a window and as a balloon from the notification area if IMAP timed out (time-outs were quite common I found) - I never found a way to turn this off. Secondly, when a time-out happened, it doesn't always try again (unpredictable behaviour) which meant I didn't know when I had new mail. Thunderbird has superior support for IMAP both in the previous regards, and also the extra options you can set for an IMAP account.

No idea if Outlook 2007+ sorted that out.

Also, I love being able to swap between using Windows or Linux and using the exact same profile for Thunderbird - this is the biggest win and the main reason I use it. Though I do miss using the Microsoft Word editor for emails from Outlook.

Nashy said,
Mozilla are really pinning their hopes on Firefox aren't they.

What else they got?
In terms of email clients, the vast majority is using Outlook. Dont have real statistics out there, but I've been working in IT for 5 years now, 4 years of allot of tech support. And i think i can count the Thunderbird users i encountered on my 2 hands. Then again, its just The Netherlands

Wow! Just plain wow!!

This really surprises me as I would've thought Thunderbird was almost synonymous with Mozilla? Have it on all 8 of my machines. I like it way over Firefox, which is on none of my machines, and which I know isn't really a fair comparison being two totally different things/apps.

warwagon said,
Why do we even care, I mean it's perfect the way it is, whats left to develop?

I agree somewhat. They should have stuck with the old versioning for Thunderbird and just sync'd up the Gecko base every year, with a couple of bug/security fixes if they think its feature complete. I don't have a problem with the GUI because its very usable, but some people get a bit crazy OCD about such things and maybe the community will make it "better".

This goes with epician's comment below as well.

warwagon said,
Why do we even care, I mean it's perfect the way it is, whats left to develop?
It's hardly perfect. They don't support some protocols. And there are no extensions to fill that gap.

I'm a big fan of Thunderbird, Firefox EXCEPT f**king versioning system learned from Google Chrome. That's crazy thing.

I haven't used a standard Mail Client since Outlook Express on Windows.. and Mail on MacOS when I had my old iMac..

I do everything from GMail now.. It has all the features I need, downloads the mail from all of my other accounts.. it's great. Not surprised they are losing interest in Thunderbird..

If any of you guys have needed to move Thundebrird from one computer to another, and realised that all u need to do is move files within a folder and just pop open thunderbird and how easy it was, we would all use it.

Needs native exchange compatibility and it will not need innovation for some time, works flawlessly!!

That's sad to hear. Thunderbird is actually pretty awesome. It's quite sad to see companies still using Lotus when Thunderbird totally trumps it on all fronts.

Relax guys Thunderbird is not dying or something , it will just not receive new features , the nightlies have Australis tabs for Thunderbird so some small features are still in way , but that doesn't mean you cant use Thunderbird .

I still prefer the Windows Live client when I'm using Windows 7, but on Linux, Evolution is my favorite client. T-bird is good too, so it's saddening to see it get left behind. I guess there's only so much you could do with an e-mail client, though. Especially in an age where texting rules.

I have used Thunderbird on and off for years but I have given up with continuing to use it now as many more of my emails seem to contain photos and I find these much more manageable in Window Live Mail desktop edition.
Once I figured out how to connect WLM using IMAP settings and its superior image handling and inserting / formatting etc I see no need for me to continue with Thunderbird.

I did use Outlook but since I changed to using Libre Office I no longer have that and, as I noted, WLM seems very capable for what I would need it for.

Now I wonder what action Canonical will take with the default e-mail in Ubuntu. They couldn't have seen this one coming as they only switched to Thunderbird last year.

Still, I won't be switching any time soon from Thunderbird.

Well, of course Outlook is better, but it costs $$$, so I'm sticking with Thunderbird as long as it gets stability updates, (it does everything I need it to do). I guess an alternative would be Windows Live Mail 2011, unless Microsoft decides to kill that...

It doesn't surprise me at all. While back when I was on Windows machine, my fav client choice was TheBat! By miles and miles the best windows client for power users.
On OSX, my client is the beautiful Sparrow. Not really comparable to TheBat tho eh!
I only wish TheBat was made for OSX

Because Microsoft still supports it?, anyway you're right, Outlook is better (primarily because of Exchange.)

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