News broke earlier today that Mozilla had a huge announcement concerning the email client Thunderbird to make. Initially the news would have been released on Monday, but since it leaked early, the Chair of the Mozilla Foundation Mitchell Baker, decided to post information about it in a blog post as well.
A letter was sent out earlier to Mozilla employees detailing the plans ahead of the Monday news announcement. Mozilla basically stated that it made the decision to focus development efforts "towards important web and mobile projects" such as Firefox OS or the Firefox web browser, and that "continued innovation on Thunderbird is not the best use of" resources.
According to the letter, Mozilla is not stopping Thunderbird, but wants to move to a Thunderbird release and governance model which is providing the email client with security and stability maintenance, and community-driven innovation and development, updates.
What this means is that some staff that is currently part of the Thunderbird team will be moved to other project groups at Mozilla.
To sum it up: Thunderbird will still be around, but existing and new users should not get their hopes up to high that a lot of new features will see the light of day in the client, nor that existing features that could use an overhaul or bug fixing will receive that. It appears as if Mozilla plans to put the desktop email client on the backburner to only release security or stability patches when necessary, and hand over the rest of the development to the community.
Some users might say that there is not really anything wrong with the move away from Thunderbird, as it is providing access to its core feature, emails, just fine. Other features, for instance the recently introduced send large files feature will probably be put on ice. And while Mozilla plans to accept the help of community members to drive forward the development of the email client, it is not clear at this point in time if anyone will join the project to do so.
For some, it looks as if Mozilla is leaving the 20 million or so Thunderbird users left standing in the rain, while it is concentrating on its first mobile operating system Firefox OS and other mobile applications.
Are you using Thunderbird? If so, what is your take on the announcement? Will you move to another desktop email client? If so, which?
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