Mozilla's Thunderbird email client has reached the end of active development, according to a blog post from Mozilla Foundation Chair Mitchell Baker earlier this week. Thunderbird is going to be split into two releases: Thunderbird ESR, which will be released in final form in November; and vanilla Thunderbird, which the Mozilla Foundation intends to be advanced by users of the product.
"We have come to the conclusion that continued innovation on Thunderbird is not the best use of our resources given our ambitious organizational goals. The most critical needs for the product are ongoing security and stability for our 20+ million users," Thunderbird Managing Director JB Piacentino wrote in a confidential letter obtained by TechCrunch.
"However, Thunderbird is one of the very few truly free and open-source multi-platform e-mail applications available today and we want to defend these values. 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."
A new release and governance model was posted on the Mozilla wiki page on June 6. The model plans on keeping the two editions: The "extended support release" (ESR) version will be static, with the exception of security patches every six weeks, while the non-ESR version may be altered by the community. Module owners remain in charge of their modules, and will be allowed to evolve over time.
The Mozilla Foundation is entertaining discussion on the proposal on a moderated mailing list. The final details of the plan will be revealed in September 2012.