Mozilla to put Thunderbird out to pasture?

Written by Joe Martin

July 27, 2007 // 4:50 p.m.

Tags: #client #email #e-mail #firefox #foundation #free #hotmail #mitchell #mozilla #service #thunderbird #webmail

Well, I'll admit that I'm a little annoyed at the news that the CEO of Mozilla is calling the future of Thunderbird into question. I had after all only just discovered the beauty of the Mozilla email client and spent a fair deal of time setting it up in Vista recently after my address book was lost in the OS transition.

Ah well.

In a public post on her blog, Mitchell Baker, the CEO of the Mozilla Foundation has outlined the possible futures for Thunderbird. Apparently, Thunderbird has been "dwarfed by the enormous energy and community focused on the web, Firefox and the ecosystem around it."

Mozilla is thus presented with the choice of what to do with the popular email service and, is unable to decide without community backing, have given users three options to comment on in an effort to rally support.

The options are as follows;

Option 1: Create a new non-profit organisation to be called the Thunderbird Foundation. This would give Thunderbird maximum independence and renewed focus, but would be complex and impossible to support as Thunderbird may not be able to generate enough money to cover its overheads.

Option 2: "Create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird." The worry here is that nothing would change as the focus of the Mozilla Foundation would still be on Firefox and not on Thunderbird.

Option 3: Release Thunderbird as a community project, similar to SeaMonkey with a new consultancy company formed from developers to care for users and continue development. This is the option which Mitchell herself is most enthusiastic about, though she is worried at how difficult it may be to maintain with a non-profit status.

Personally, I'd vote for number two - but then again, I fear change.

As mentioned previously, the idea behind the three options is to give users like yourselves the chance to submit opinions and comments. You can do so either at Mitchell's blog, or you can discuss it further in the bit-tech forums.

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