Thunderbird Discussion

July 26th, 2007

There is a lot of content in the comments to my Thunderbird and email post. I’m going to try to respond to general themes, although not every post specifically. I’m going to start by addressing the themes in separate messages; I think that will make it easier to get to clarity.

The themes I see so far are:

  1. Google is involved somehow.
  2. Thunderbird and the Mozilla mission.
  3. Feature thoughts about Thunderbird.
  4. Why can’t Thunderbird and Firefox both prosper inside the Mozilla Corporation?
  5. Is Mozilla exclusively focused on Firefox?
  6. Revenue is the determining factor.

There may be other themes that appear or that I’ve missed with this first pass. Or two may show up as part of the same message, I’m not sure yet since I haven’t written them. But these are the topics I know now that I want to address.

11 comments for “Thunderbird Discussion”

  1. 1

    Tipt said on July 26th, 2007 at 10:45 pm:

    Discussie over toekomst Mozilla Thunderbird

    Nog steeds mijn favoriete mailprogramma..

  2. 2

    John said on July 27th, 2007 at 7:50 am:

    Any corporate separation of Thunderbird seems like a short sighted plan. Mozilla was my last vestige of hope for having an email client that was integrated with the web browser. I don’t mean in the same program. I mean that it interacted with the browser in innovative ways. I thought that breaking out the email program first was just a start to then optimizing mail, and subsequently reconnecting it back to the browser.

    The problem with ALL stand alone email clients, and why they are getting spanked by web mail clients, is ease of set up. In every other way they are usually better. Having to enter those esoteric smtp, imap, or pop addresses is not only a bit of a drag for the experienced, but absolutely intimidating to the tentative (compared to the webmail experience).

    Imagine this… I open up firefox and go to hotmail. What comes up is my hotmail page with a message laid over it, “Would you like to continue using the standard hotmail interface, or would you like to use the enhanced Thunderbird interface? This is a one time message to automatically set up your Thunderbird email client for your hotmail account. You can go back to the standard interface in the future by simply navigating to your hotmail account in your web browser as usual. But, if you want to use the enhanced Thunderbird interface, all you need to do is launch the Thunderbird program and it will automatically handle your hotmail mail.”

    A simple plug in connecting Firefox and Thunderbird could accomplish this. Its very easy to just program in tables of the correct servers for the all of the top mail services and completely alleviate the user of any of the typical email set up stuff. All they need to do is log in with username and password.

    (A “click here” on the message to list all of the great features of a local mail client program can be added as well. And, I know I made that message long, I just wanted to convey the gist of things.)

    Apple does a similar (sort of) thing if you use their email. How about Mozilla providing that solution for everyone else? I think Apple was right that email is the number one application on the internet. Reducing the community trust in your email client does not seem wise to me.

  3. 3

    Mitchell Baker said on July 27th, 2007 at 10:47 am:


    I agree that email integrated with browsing could be of great interest. That’s exactly the kind of issue that we’d like to think about in a mail discussion. Currently the Thunderbird team and product direction is distinctly focused on Thunderbird as a desktop application. Maybe that should change, maybe it will. The point of the discussion is to figure out if there are people who have interest and willingness to get involved, either in evolving Thunderbird or in a general mail initiative.

    If this discussion results in innovative things happening along the lines you suggest or otherwise, then we will all succeed.

  4. 4

    Dan Lauber said on July 28th, 2007 at 1:02 pm:

    I’m not going to pretend to be a computer developer — I’m just a lowly consumer of computer products since 1981. I have found Thunderbird to be the best email program I’ve ever used and would just like to suggest – from a consumer’s point of view – that the Mozilla Foundation should whatever it can to maintain and further develop Thunderbird. I don’t really care what corporate structure you use — the key is to keep Thunderbird thriving and growing because consumers want and need it. Thank you.

  5. 5

    W^L+ said on July 29th, 2007 at 9:13 am:

    Mitch, I use TB regularly, but I have multiple computers and multiple e-mail accounts (POP+SMTP and IMAP+SMTP). It needs to be easier to use in such a configuration, and that includes each account having *its own* INCOMING and OUTGOING server/address. It can also stand some improvements in the newsgroup area, but with the spam-harvesting, I avoid using newsgroups anyway. I’d definitely like to see it working better with Web-based e-mail services and with message boards (e.g., phpbb systems). John’s point is valid.

    Secondly, TB is a collaboration and communication tool. It really needs to absorb Lightning and possibly provide a client for IRC, XMPP/Jabber, and/or SILC chat, or perhaps a “connector” to Pidgin.

    Have you considered reaching out to OSAF/Chandler?

  6. 6

    sl said on July 29th, 2007 at 8:53 pm:

    I used to PM Mail before it was dumped. I then found TB. It is superb. I have a home office and hate MS outlook. I want my email on a local so I can do with it what I want. TB offers me flexibility and I don’t want to be tied to a web-based service. I need to backup, archive over years, I need advanced filters. TB is an excellent product. I use different profiles for different clients and needs. Without TB I am back using sub-standard products. Hey – I would PAY to use T-B. Has Mozilla thought about that?

    I want and need this product. I have structured my email needs and storage around it and have been doing so for the past four years. I will be stuffed if it goes.

    PLEASE don’t dump it!

  7. 7

    nbjayme said on July 30th, 2007 at 11:01 am:

    While I am sad that Mozilla is dropping continued development on ThunderBird I would assume that they are refocusing their strengths to make Mozilla a very compelling application framework/platform (i.e. Xul). There’s really a need to improve the framework and ease of development in creating plugins and/or integration with other scripting languages. The future is about web-enabled applications and the web-browser (Firefox) is an important tool to that. This is not to say that thunderbird is unimportant, but it is unlikely to become a host environment for a web application.

    Likewise, it’s good to hear that there are brave souls who are willing to move ThunderBird forward. I hope the community will continue to support the developers. Most of our clients have now switched to ThunderBird, and the improvement in the Mozilla framework will also be beneficial to ThunderBird.

  8. 8

    Jim said on August 1st, 2007 at 12:34 pm:

    I wonder how this affects the development of Eudora. Weren’t all future versions of that client, with a still-pretty-significant install base, supposed to be based on Thunderbird?

    Seems like this is a real chance for Qualcomm to get involved in an exciting open source movement with a lot of momentum behind it.

  9. 9

    Asa Dotzler said on August 1st, 2007 at 11:55 pm:

    Jim, as I understand it, there are a few engineers working on the Eudora parts of Thunderbird and they’ll continue to do so under the Penelope project just as Scott, David, and the Thunderbird community will continue to work on the core mail features.

    – A

  10. 10

    vienna22 said on August 2nd, 2007 at 1:06 am:

    Since there are some powerfull plugins (like ‘lightning’, ‘enigmail’) Thunderbird has become more than a alternative to Outlook and Co.

    I can not say how you should do it but PLEASE let TB stay alive!

    Thanks a lot to all developers of Thunderbird and its Addons

    Best wishes from Vienna, Austria

  11. 11

    Rob said on September 3rd, 2007 at 3:32 am:

    Interesting subject, I think there are many innnovations that will determine the direction of browsers over the coming years, and it seems mozilla is leading the way. Incorporating emails, music, and usb devices will be the browsers of the future.

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