Mozilla Wants to Pass Off Thunderbird Work Once and For All

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 02, 2015

As we reported in July of 2012, Mozilla had pulled back on further development of its long-standing Thunderbird email platform, despite the fact that it had more than 20 million users.The idea was to focus on the Firefox browser. Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, posted a blog post up about the topic.

Now, she writes in Mozilla's public governance forum this week the following: "Once again we’ve been asking the question: is Thunderbird a likely source of innovation and of leadership in today’s Internet life? Or is Thunderbird already pretty much what its users want and mostly needs some on-going maintenance?" 

Baker uses Thunderbird along with millions of continuing users, and she writes that the email platform might thrive best if it does not rely on Mozilla for development resources. Her post notes:

"Today Thunderbird developers spend much of their time
responding to changes made in core Mozilla systems and technologies. At
the same time, build, Firefox, and platform engineers continue to pay a
tax to support Thunderbird. These competing demands will not get better soon. Instead, they are very likely to get worse. Firefox and related projects are now speeding up the rate of change, modernizing our development process and our

"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."

 It's sad to hear this for those of us who really like Thunderbird, but Baker is probably right about the need to apply true focus to Firefox. The Firefox browser has been steadily losing market share to Google Chrome. Mozilla wants to once and for all pass off support for Thunderbird, and there may be good reasons to do so.

"Mark Surman of the Mozilla Foundation and I are both interested in
helping find a way for Thunderbird to separate from Mozilla
infrastructure," Baker concludes.