Mozilla's de-prioritization of Thunderbird was a shock to many of the clients active users who feared that development would come to a complete halt in the near future. While that is apparently not the case, Thunderbird users are still in for a few surprises and changes when it comes to future development of the client.
Mozilla for instance will provide the client with stability and security updates, but leave everything beyond that to community efforts. And depending on those efforts, Thunderbird may either receive frequent feature updates or barely anything new.
Thunderbird has adopted Mozilla's rapid release cycle, which for the next three releases works in favor for users of the client. Since features have already been in development, we will see some of them implemented in the stable version of the email client after all.
We have already looked at a recent beta version of Thunderbird 15 which ships with a set of features including interface changes, instant messaging support and search integration, integration of a do not track feature, and a new FileLink provider to store larger attachments on a file hosting site instead of sending them with the email.
Both Thunderbird 16 and 17 are already in development and will include additional interface changes and instant messaging improvements lie an indicator next to recipients that is telling you whether those contacts are online on one of the configured networking sites.
Additional features that Mozilla aims to integrate into these versions of the email client are additional file hosting providers, with box.com and spideroak.com almost certain to make an appearance, smooth scrolling integration that Firefox users already make use of, and improved performance when moving, copying or deleting large emails.
Additionally, there may be improvements coming to the client's Google Mail support and Thunderbird's ISPDB database that is being used for the client's automatic email provider configuration. And then there are app tabs to pin tabs in Thunderbird and improvements to the calendar app Lightning.
We will see these improvements in the next 17 or so weeks, and while things can change, it is almost certain that the majority will find their way into the stable version of the email client. (via Sören)
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