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

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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

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!!

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..

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

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.

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.

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

How sad. I hate web clients, since I have like 6 POP/IMAP addresses to monitor. TB makes that really easy, and supports Gmail.

The saddest part is that the only other *real* options are Outlook or web clients, neither of which I really want to use.

I'd love it if Google released a Chrome-based client like TB that could handle POP3 etc easily, but they're still trying to get everyone to use Gmail. Sorry, but many people have their own domain, or their business domain, or whatever.

Zagadka said,
How sad. I hate web clients, since I have like 6 POP/IMAP addresses to monitor. TB makes that really easy, and supports Gmail.

The saddest part is that the only other *real* options are Outlook or web clients, neither of which I really want to use.

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.

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.

I'm still using Thunderbird 2.0.0.24 - it's fast, lightweight (on resources), and does everything I need. Thunderbird 3 was not a good experience (bloated, slow), however, the latest version is quite polished (global indexing should be off by default though - especially if your total email size is over 1GB).

My workplace recently tried rolling out Outlook. However, what's interesting if that most people went back to using Thunderbird.

Webmail for work email purposes? No thanks. Too limiting (and slow).

On another note, I am wondering how many people actually use Evolution on Linux.

ScottDaMan said,
I'd like to see a Mozilla search engine. Microsoft has one, Google has one, why doesn't Mozilla?

Mozilla gets its money from either of those other 2 Google has been their major form of income for the last bunch of years.
And if I'm not mistaking, Mozilla is changing to Bing

Well if this means they can spend more time on Firefox then it's definitely worth it since these types of programs are more of the luxury type and with web based email (gmail/yahoo etc) being good enough, it's not surprising they did this.

so as long as there is security updates and stability updates etc, which it appears they will continue doing, i am sure it will be good enough.

Thunderbird could use a serious face lift. Guess that will never happen. I liked how snappy it was, but always thought the whole interface looked dated. Using it reminds me of Netscape Communicator 4.

Shadrack said,
Thunderbird could use a serious face lift. Guess that will never happen. I liked how snappy it was, but always thought the whole interface looked dated. Using it reminds me of Netscape Communicator 4.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tum...0iwtyy6nh1qkoea4o1_1280.png

We have the Australis theme in the works. Please read my colleagues blog post about Thunderbird http://mikeconley.ca/blog/2012...ats-not-it-for-thunderbird/ -- no fret, there's more in the pipes.

Damnit, I use Thunderbird for the sole purpose of not needing to check via the browser.
Hopefully someone forks Thunderbird or I am going to have to switch. Maybe Outlook.

jon.01 said,
Damnit, I use Thunderbird for the sole purpose of not needing to check via the browser.
Hopefully someone forks Thunderbird or I am going to have to switch. Maybe Outlook.

Yeah, I hope the community keeps it going, but Mozilla was doing a phenomenal job with it. It was a really great client. I'm very sad by this news.

jon.01 said,
Damnit, I use Thunderbird for the sole purpose of not needing to check via the browser.
Hopefully someone forks Thunderbird or I am going to have to switch. Maybe Outlook.

What do you need a fork for? Mozilla will still update Thunderbird, and they'll accept new features that the community develops, which is essentially what you would get with a community fork.

At the moment I use outlook, but it's a shame they're taking this step as Thunderbird was in my opinion the best open source mail client on the market.

I guess that makes sense. Lots of people seem to be using web based clients lately.

I myself love clients, so I am half saddened.

ObiWanToby said,
I guess that makes sense. Lots of people seem to be using web based clients lately.

I myself love clients, so I am half saddened.

Same here. I love Thunderbird. It's one of the best clients out there. I'm very disappointed by this news to be honest.

ObiWanToby said,
I myself love clients, so I am half saddened.

Netscape/Mozilla screwed themselves when they stopped supporting a newsreader client.

Never heard of Thunderbird. I guess that says it all.

dvb2000 said,

Netscape/Mozilla screwed themselves when they stopped supporting a newsreader client.

Never heard of Thunderbird. I guess that says it all.

With 20 Million users, I'm really surprised you've never heard of Thunderbird... It's a really great client...

AaronMT said,

Please read my colleagues blog post about Thunderbird http://mikeconley.ca/blog/2012...ats-not-it-for-thunderbird/ -- no fret, there's more in the pipes.


Interesting, thank you for the link. Lack of innovation does eventually mean the death of projects like this... I'm hoping the contributions can keep this going, but this seems like a strange decision for Mozilla. I love Thunderbird, and sincerely hope this doesn't mean the end...

dvb2000 said,

Netscape/Mozilla screwed themselves when they stopped supporting a newsreader client.

Never heard of Thunderbird. I guess that says it all.

Umm, what? They stopped supporting a newsreader client? Funny, because T-Bird is my go to desktop client for mail and RSS feeds. in fact, that's where I read this article.

I love that it works so well out of the box, no muss, no fuss. And it's almost identical on Win and *Nix, because I use both OS's for desktop environments.

T-Bird with the built in Quick Filter is an absolute godsend for mail searches and deep searches of a large RSS archive. It's practically find as you type. It absolutely kills Outlook for speed of search, and I've never seen an RSS reader that comes even close in terms of reliability and functionality and speed searching.

20 million users seems small to me, as it is now the default mail client in Ubuntu, which is millions of users in and of itself.

AmazingRando said,
I think they meant newsgroup reading.

I agree on this, but there are much better newsgroup clients out there, I actually used it last year for newsgroups. Didn't know they cut support. Honestly, I quit using much after the change of versions so quickly and the first big GUI change with 4 I think?