Thunderbird “a tax” on Firefox development, and Mozilla wants to drop it

Mozilla Thunderbird logoYou might know Mozilla primarily for its Firefox browser, but for many years the company has also developed an e-mail client called Thunderbird. The two projects use the same rendering engine and other underlying technology, but Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker has announced that Mozilla would like to stop supporting Thunderbird, calling its continuing maintenance "a tax" on the more important work of developing Firefox.

"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," Baker writes. "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."

Thunderbird “a tax” on Firefox development, and Mozilla wants to drop it

Mozilla doesn't plan to drop Thunderbird immediately, however—the current maintenance schedule will continue, and Thunderbird users can continue to use the product. But the end goal for Mozilla, according to Baker, is to find "the right kind of legal and financial home" for the Thunderbird project, and "[separate] itself from reliance on Mozilla development systems and in some cases, Mozilla technology." In other words, the company would like to give Thunderbird to people who will take care of it, freeing the Firefox team from having to worry about it.

Mozilla's recent support for Thunderbird has been limited—it still receives security updates and basic changes imported from Firefox, but adding major features hasn't been a priority for Mozilla for several years now despite some efforts from the development community. In fact, Thunderbird is currently only updated on Mozilla's "extended support release" (ESR) schedule, originally implemented to help IT managers deal with Firefox and Thunderbird's then-new rapid-release cycle.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Mozilla, Thunderbird

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