Future Eudora Versions Based on Mozilla Thunderbird

Thursday October 12th, 2006

The Mozilla Foundation and Qualcomm have announced that future versions of the Eudora mail client will be based on Mozilla Thunderbird. The first Thunderbird-based release of Eudora is expected to be made available in the first half of 2007 and will be both free and open-source. According to the press release, it will retain "Eudora's uniquely rich feature set and productivity enhancements". Thunderbird and Eudora will remain separate products, though they may benefit from common improvements in the future.

The mission to migrate Eudora to a Thunderbird-based application will be known as the Penelope project. A rough roadmap has been produced, envisaging three initial releases: 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0. Each release will progressively reimplement more Eudora features, with 1.0 being a suitable replacement for most current users. Qualcomm has assigned six employees to the Penelope project, including original Eudora developer Steve Dorner, who started working on the program in 1988, three years before it was purchased by Qualcomm.

The Eudora FAQ on the Thunderbird announcement makes it clear that Qualcomm sees an open-source Eudora as an exit strategy with which it can gracefully leave the email client business. Today, Qualcomm focuses on wireless technology (the company invented the CDMA standard used by some mobile phone networks) and Eudora is somewhat of an anomaly in its product lineup. A final commercial version of Eudora, 7.1 for Windows and 6.2.4 for Mac OS X, has been released at a reduced price. Qualcomm will stop selling this edition once the Thunderbird-based product reaches maturity.

#3 Exiting or just transitioning to open source?

by MozMonkey

Thursday October 12th, 2006 10:26 PM

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By moving Eudora to an open source product, QUALCOMM can exit the Eudora business while still supporting Eudora users and advancing the Eudora e-mail client at a faster pace than before, through the power of the open source development community. "

It almost sounds as if they want to continue development on Eudora even though they will not be marketing a commercial version any more. That would be cool.

But if they will not be involved with Eudora development after they release 1.0 then it would be nice if they worked to add Eudora features to Thunderbird instead of creating a fork. Who will continue work on Eudora as a separate project if Qualcomm quits working on it? They need to consider where the project will be hosted and how to pass the baton to the new developers.

In any case, it is great that a company is willing to exit by creating an open source version instead of just closing up shop and leaving their customers with an abandoned product. Eudora could live on for a long time as open source, just like Netscape did.