Mozilla Thunderbird to Find New Home as Mozilla Foundation Focuses on Mozilla Firefox

Thursday July 26th, 2007

On her weblog, Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker has announced that Mozilla Thunderbird is to move to a "new, separate organizational setting" as the Mozilla Foundation continues to focus ever more closely on Mozilla Firefox.

While the Mozilla Foundation supports a number of projects, its taxable subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation is responsible for only Firefox and Thunderbird. However, it has become increasingly clear that Firefox is the priority. The resources allocated to Firefox dwarf those allocated to Thunderbird and recent projects such as the initiative to improve Mozilla support exclude Thunderbird.

Mitchell outlines three possible options for a new organisational structure for Thunderbird. One is to create a entirely new non-profit, which would offer maximum independence for Thunderbird but is organisationally complex. A second option is to create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird, which would keep the Mozilla Foundation involved but may mean that Thunderbird continues to be neglected in favour of Firefox. A final option is to recast Thunderbird as community project, similar to SeaMonkey, and set up a small independent services and consulting company to continue development. However, there are concerns over how the Thunderbird product, project and company would interact.

On his new weblog, lead Thunderbird developer Scott MacGregor has posted his thoughts on the finding a new home for Thunderbird. He states that he favours the third option. Scott explains that this means that Thunderbird would continue to use Mozilla Foundation infrastructure, such as the CVS repository and Bugzilla, and the new company would perform a similar role for Thunderbird as the Mozilla Corporation does for Firefox, developing, releasing and supporting the application.

Observers of the Mozilla community may have seen Thunderbird's new home coming. In April, former Firefox lead developer Ben Goodger wrote a weblog post discussing autonomy for non-Firefox projects. He suggested renaming the Mozilla Corporation to the Firefox Corporation and pointed to a newsgroup message in which Mozilla Corporation CTO Brendan Eich declared "Thunderbird will have to fly free". Ten days later, Mitchell Baker wrote a weblog post on the Mozilla Foundation's focus on Firefox, stating that the Foundation's resources would be used to "assist other Mozilla participants and projects, but not equally with Firefox and not at significant cost to Firefox".

Update: In the text above, the sentence "While the Mozilla Foundation supports a number of projects, its taxable subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation is responsible for only Firefox and Thunderbird" was potentially misleading. The Corporation provides significant support to projects other than Firefox and Thunderbird in terms of hardware, services and personnel.

It would be more accurate to say that Firefox and Thunderbird are Mozilla products, which means that they get released, distributed and supported as end-user applications by the Corporation. Other applications, such as SeaMonkey and Camino, are Mozilla projects, which are made into products by volunteers or other organisations, if at all.

Thanks to Asa Dotzler for the clarification in comment 26 and comment 30 on this article.

#22 The future of TBird

by mitrich <>

Friday July 27th, 2007 11:05 AM

You are replying to this message

Two things in response;

Web mail will never ever be as elegant and simple and swift as TBird. When I am at work,I use my ISP's web mail to check my home email. I also use Yahoo Mail. They are great in that you can use them for any mail in or out from any place you happen to be. But, beyond that they are clutsy and clumsy.

Regarding reaching out to business, for get that too. I used TBird for a while when Outlook on my new Vista computer was sick from trying to digest a huge importof my .pst folder.and I was curing it. TBird handled mail beautifully. It was nimble, speedy, a joy. But that's where it ended. Importing an address book was miserable. Lining up fields from Outlook to TBird was from the stone age, moving categories one space at a time, and then re-alligning all of the others. Also, that three tab card thing is ridiculous. Outlook, beyond mail, has collaboration, calendar, journal, and a great Contact process. Outlook will rule in the corporate/industrial/financial world for the foreseeable future.

I sincerely hope that TBird makes it. It is a worthy competitor to Outlook Express.

Most of TBird's work is done by volunteers. So, some other organization might come along and add a feather to its cap by adopting the organization. When the Mets put Julio Franco up for assignment, the Braves grabbed him. Maybe some organization like Netscape might come along and step up, putting its AOL/Time Warner muscle behind TBird. Radical, but possible.