Wow, what a depressing day for Thunderbird fans!Â Â According to several reports from all over the place, Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker announced on her blog that they feel that they are not able to devote the time and resources that are needed for Thunderbird to thrive.Â Â As a result, they are exploring a few different possible futures for the e-mail client so that they canÂ focus on Firefox.Â While this is definitely a good thing for Firefox, this could be disastrous for Thunderbird fans around the globe.Â How will this work?Â Here are the 3 options they have provided:
- Create a new non-profit organization analogous to the Mozilla Foundation – a Thunderbird foundation. If it turns out Thunderbird generates a revenue model from the product as Firefox does, then a Thunderbird foundation could follow the Mozilla Foundation model and create a subsidiary.This model probably offers the maximum independence for Thunderbird. But it is also the most organizationally complex.
- Create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird. This has less overhead, although it still requires a new company that serves the mission of the Mozilla Foundation. In this case the Mozilla Foundation board and personnel would remain involved in Thunderbird. The Thunderbird effort may therefore still end up with less focus and less flexibility.
- Thunderbird is released as a community project much like SeaMonkey or Camino, and a small independent services and consulting company is formed by the Thunderbird developers to continue development and care for Thunderbird users. Many open source projects use this model.Â Â
No matter which one they go with, as a Thunderbird user it doesn’t look good for the future of the e-mail client I enjoy.Â Under Mozilla’s supervision, the e-mail client was improving atÂ a very slow pace, but it was being improved regularly.Â Â Now that it looks like the project won’t be supervised by Mozilla any longer, we may see more progress and focus on the desktop e-mail client, or it may just disappear all together.Â
In my opinion, they need an integrated calendar such as Microsoft Outlook offers to be considered a true competitor to Microsoft Outlook.Â Â Sunbird is a very capable extension for personal use, but itÂ isn’t going to work for major corporations that need this feature built-in and functional before making the switch.Â
This is definitely wishful thinking, but I would like to see Google take over the Thunderbird project, add a functional built-in calendar system, and of course add my tabbed e-mails I’ve been waiting for!Â Â It is already easily linked with GMail, so itÂ could also unofficially serve as a desktop version of GMail.Â Â The time and money Google could contribute, along with the power of the open source community could combine to make a pretty powerful desktop e-mail client.Â Â
There is no doubt in my mind that as people get away from relying onÂ Microsoft’s Office suite (for OpenOffice, Google’s Online Suite, or Zoho), they will be more open to ditching Microsoft Outlook.Â Â This isÂ because I feel Outlook’s integration with Word, Excel,Â PowerPoint, andÂ Access are probably it’s biggestÂ selling points, especially to large corporations.Â Â Google could really take advantage of this, while doing a great service for the open source community.Â Â
What do you think?Â Sound off in the comments below!