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Mozilla Is Not Killing Thunderbird: Plans to Split It Off from Firefox

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[mks_dropcap style=”square” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ff3b3e” txt_color=”#ffffff”]A[/mks_dropcap] recent entry posted by chairperson Mitchell Baker on Mozilla Governance group led many to assume that Mozilla is planning to kill its cross platform mail/chat client Thunderbird. “Today Thunderbird developers spend much of their time responding to changes made in core Mozilla systems and technologies.” – Mitchell wrote in a long message.

After this entry was posted, may believed that this might be the end of Thunderbird. But Mitchell has now made it clear that Mozilla is not killing Thunderbird, rather they are planning to split off the technical infrastructure being shared by Firefox and Thunderbird.

Thunderbird Doesn’t Have Potential to Have Industry-wise Impact

“Many inside of Mozilla, including an overwhelming majority of our leadership, feel the need to be laser-focused on activities like Firefox that can have an industry-wide impact. With all due respect to Thunderbird and the Thunderbird community, we have been clear for years  that we do not view Thunderbird as having this sort of potential.” – The entry by Baker stated.

After the news of Mozilla dropping Thunderbird spread across, Mitchell today provided detailed clarifications about it on her blog.  “Thunderbird and Firefox are interconnected in a few different ways. They are connected through our technical infrastructure. Both use Mozilla build and release systems.” Mitchell explains. “The time has come when it is no longer effective for Thunderbird and Firefox to keep sharing the same technical infrastructure.”

Mitchell has explained that Mozilla is not simply ‘dropping off’ Thunderbird. In fact the community is planning to separate Firefox and Thunderbird infrastructure while still providing assistance to Thunderbird community.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#f0f0f0″ txt_color=”#ff3b3e”]I’ve seen some characterize this as Mozilla “dropping” Thunderbird. This is not accurate.[/mks_pullquote]

According to Mitchell, Thunderbird project is being seen as ‘tax’ on Mozilla’s development and they’re looking for organizations that can take care of Thunderbird and free Firefox team from the burden of supporting it. A number of such organizations have already came forward.

Mozilla Is Not Killing Thunderbird

“I’ve seen some characterize this as Mozilla “dropping” Thunderbird. This is not accurate. We are going to disentangle the technical infrastructure. We are going to assist the Thunderbird community. This includes working with organizations that want to invest in Thunderbird. Mozilla Foundation will serve as a fiscal sponsor for Thunderbird donations during this time.” – writes Mitchell.

This makes it clear that Thunderbird project isn’t going to be buried alive but we might be seeing it split off from Mozilla as new organization starts taking care of it. One thing is not clear yet though. “Whether Mozilla remains the best organizational and legal home for Thunderbird.”- as noted by Ms. Mitchell, the answer in not known yet.

“This is a separate question from technical infrastructure and we have decided to separate the technical infrastructure and to explore what is best for Thunderbird and for the Mozilla project as a whole.”

Continued Growth of Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla’s Thunderbird has been one of its kind, cross-platform and open source mail client for many years. It saw 1 million downloads in just 10 days of its initial release in 2004. Since 2012, Thunderbird is being managed ‘poorly’ but its popularity continued to grow. As per a blog entry made by Kent James in February 2015 stated that Thunderbird saw nearly 10 million ADI (Active Daily Installs).

The current number of Thunderbird’s active installs is not known.

A sign of relief for lovers of Mozilla’s cross-platform mail client is that Mozilla is not killing Thunderbird. It would be interesting to see what changes are now made to Thunderbird.

Sources: Mozilla Governance on Google Groups and Mitchell Baker on Lizard Wrangler

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