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Is Thunderbird Dying?

TechCrunch has published an internal Mozilla email which says that the company will all but abandon its Thunderbird email client to the open source masses. Is this the end for the world’s biggest open-source email client?

In the email, the Thunderbird project’s manager says the company doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to invest resources in a desktop email client as its primary work is in the online space. Like all Mozilla’s products, Thunderbird is an open source project, and the company wants to use the community of developers who work on it for free to keep the product moving forward in the future. It’s not total abandonment: Mozilla will still help out with the security and stability of the product, it just won’t develop new features. From the email:

We’re not “stopping” Thunderbird, but proposing we adapt the Thunderbird release and governance model in a way that allows both ongoing security and stability maintenance, as well as community-driven innovation and development for the product. This will mean an eventual shift in how we staff Thunderbird at Mozilla Corporation — we are still working out details, but some people will likely end up on other Mozilla projects.

As that last sentence notes, the plan is still very unclear and Mozilla wants to open it up to the public for discussion before the final plan is settled in September. The announcement was originally set for Monday.

While it’s sad to see a semi-iconic relic of Mozilla’s past left to die at the hands of the open source community, the move makes sense. More and more people move their email to the web every day. Pretty soon desktop clients won’t just be obsolete — they’ll be inconvenient. We’ll have to wait until the announcement is official to learn more. [TechCrunch]

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