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Mozilla may spin off its email client Thunderbird as an independent open source app

Mozilla may spin off its email client Thunderbird as an independent open source app

by AshwinDecember 1, 2015

Thunderbird users, you may be in for some rather unpleasant news.


The email client’s parent company, Mozilla wants to break away from its roots.

According to the company’s Chairperson, Mitchell Baker, the move is being thought about, in a bid to focus on its main product, the popular web browser, Firefox.

Mozilla first launched the email app, about 11 years ago. Techcrunch notes that Mozilla stopped work on Thunderbird three years ago, and only kept the email app updated with security patches and bug fixes.

Baker writes in a open letter posted at the Mozilla greivance forums stating,

“I believe Thunderbird should would thrive best by separating itself from reliance on Mozilla development systems and in some cases, Mozilla technology.”

She goes on to explain that it is not ideal for Mozilla to concentrate on both Firefox and Thunderbird, as apparently, it is a difficult job for the engineers behind each project. Thunderbird engineers are working to improve the app to match the changes that Firefox adds, while Firefox’s engineers do their best to work on the browser and also end up helping with the email app’s development.

Baker suggests that these demands do not benefit either app, and are taxing the developers, and that this is why Thunderbird should be worked on independently. Mozilla’s intent is not clear, and it is possible that it may spin off Thunderbird as a separate open-source project.

This however, looks to be a desperate move, to boost the quality of Firefox, which isn’t remotely surprising, considering that it is hopelessly out-rivaled by Google Chrome and very shockingly, by Internet Explorer.

Worse comes to worst, Mozilla could end up giving Thunderbird the boot, and may hand over the development of the email app to a third-party. Windows 10 already comes with a Mail and Calendar app, which is more than a decent replacement for Thunderbird (without add-ons), but we sure like to see the app survive, at least for its loyal users out there, especially those not on Microsoft’s latest OS.

Nevertheless, Mozilla’s decision to break Thunderbird away, is a horrid decision. In fact, it is one of many bad decisions, which the company has taken in recent times including the upcoming mandatory requirement of signed add-ons, the e2s Electrolysis memory management feature which will let each tab in the browser use its own process, and the new web-extensions API which likely spells doom for many existing add-ons.

Let’s hope Vivaldi browser’s mail is implemented soon, as it is the browser which is likely to be a solid replacement of the legend that is Firefox.