back to article Mozilla shoots down Thunderbird, hatches new release model

Mozilla has announced a new plan for the ongoing development of its Thunderbird email client that it says will provide for a stable product and continued opportunity for innovation That's all well and good, but the contents of a leaked internal Mozilla memo suggest that the full picture may be less rosy than it seems. The …


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  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Mail without a mail client

    Is taking a backup of what's in your webmail account or periodically transferring everything from the server to the computer that strange these days?

    1. LarsG

      Gmail, owned by Google and by definition so is your account.

      Google decide on a whim, no more account, you lose and lose everything on there.

      Thunderbird, it's all on your computer, it's all yours and so long as you back up it will always be yours.

      After some of the fiascos with the cloud and hosting on someone else's servers, I'd rather have control over my own data.

    2. Skoorb

      Re: Mail without a mail client

      Off to Opera Mail for me I guess then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mail without a mail client

        Opera Mail is actually pretty nice.

        If you like Firefox/Thunderbird, try the much better Seamonkey!

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Mail without a mail client

      Only fools (or foolish organizations) move to web based email and cloud storage. If you don't maintain control of your data, then someone else controls you. And remember, in the United States, under the Patriot Act, all of the data you have stored by a 3rd party is subject to secret subpoenas, where the party providing data services to you is forbidden to inform you that your data has been copied and turned over to the government.

      1. RAMChYLD

        The problem is...

        Web-based email has been around for almost two decades (assuming Hotmail is the first, that's 16 years). These web-based mail have became the defacto mail for almost everyone. If it's not hotmail, it's GMail or Yahoo Mail.

    4. kb

      Re: Mail without a mail client

      Yep, afraid so. I run a little PC shop and i can tell you that home users NEVER have any kind of desktop mail app and business users treat outlook more as a PIM and meeting scheduler than they do a mail client anymore. heck I'm probably the geekiest one in my area and i simply use one webmail service to backup the other, most of us just don't have anything in our emails we care about keeping for any length of time.

      I'm afraid for the vast majority it looks like desktop mail has gone the way of the floppy drive, where once it was everywhere now most simply don't have a use for it. With webmail I get get my email anywhere from multiple devices, its just nicer all around that dealing with downloading all the mail, a good 90% I probably don't want or will toss after reading once anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nothing worth keeping"

        No, only a history of things you have bought on-line which you may some day need proof of purchase for because they break down and need warranty attention, for an insurance claim, or for tax purposes; a history of when you signed up for accounts on hundreds of different web sites, what names or e-mail addresses you used when registering and how to change or cancel them; proof of communications with official bodies or businesses, about important issues or contracts you have entered into, e.g. insurance policies.

        There have been cases where I have been asked by friends, by work or even by police about something which happened a while back and only through correlating what I was doing in my e-mail was I able to have a clue what they were talking about.

        Anything business-related must be kept for at least 6 years under UK law but even for personal stuff it might be quite useful to prove that you said or didn't say something at a particular time.

        Finally how about e-mail addresses of people that are either important or you'd like to keep in touch with that you might not be able to find elsewhere?

        I'd be quite upset if I lost my e-mails, as there is information of value to me in there - which is why I take a backup.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The usual software problem

    A company builds a product, in this case a very good mail client, and adds a features over the following years.

    Then the usual software problem arrives: the product does what it was supposed to do, plus the aforementioned bells and whistles, so where does it go from there? Do you add more features, in which case it stops being a mail client and becomes yet another Swiss Army software product that does lots of things but none of them particularly well or spend the next few iterations doing cosmetic nonsense like Microsoft? When the biggest improvement to the next version is a new interface then you know things are getting a bit desperate.

    It's not easy to innovate in email when most of the issues were solved years ago. Mozilla's current product problem is easy to solve as all the core functionality is there and anything else can be done with extensions.

    1. Aaron Em

      'Most issues solved years ago'

      Posting from the pub, are we? Put your mobile away and get a round of drinks in, there's a good lad.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Most issues solved years ago'

        Yes, indeed. An email client has really simple requirements. Compose and send, receive and read. I think these were taken care of years ago.

        Mine's a Spitfire, thanks.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: 'Most issues solved years ago'

          To be honest, Thunderbird did come up with tabbed emails which was great. I don't think anybody else has done that with an email client, but I wish they would.

          Of course it only actually works until you hit the reply button and it opens a new window. I take it that we won't be seeing that fixed now!

          1. Ian Yates

            Re: 'Most issues solved years ago'

            It'll sound cliche, but Opera Mail also uses tabs.

            I use Thunderbird at home and can't say that there's anything major that I think is missing and it's been stable for me for years. This sounds like a sensible solution, as long as they are committed to fixing any discovered security issues.

          2. AJ MacLeod

            Re: 'Most issues solved years ago'

            Tabbed email browsing is perhaps the single most retarded "innovation" I've seen in email clients, ever (have you tried yahoo's tabbed webmail?.) I've frequently seen it cause confusion, frequently seen people with vast numbers of tabs open simultaneously without realising it, and can't think of a single occasion where it would be a good idea.

            Want to have two messages open at once? Novel suggestion coming up... open each message in its own window! Hey presto - you can alt-tab between them to your heart's content or even do outrageously clever things like arranging them side by side or top and bottom on the same screen... put them on separate virtual desktops... the sky's the limit.

            No, there's plenty of work needed on thunderbird, (getting resource usage down would be a start) but I can't think of many missing features...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The usual software problem

      A good question, which allows of a very simple and satisfactory answer.

      When there are no more promising or popular enhancements to make, stop making enhancements. Instead, keep fixing bugs, and making sure the product is as secure and efficient as possible. That's less glamorous, but more important.

      A few years ago Larry Ellison (no less) declared that the software industry was the most fashion-conscious, without exception, in the world. He specifically included women's clothes. Now does anyone think that is a good thing? Would we be happy if, say, avionics or bridge building were similarly fashion-conscious?

      "Welcome to Flight X101... for the next 8 hours all our lives will be depending on the very latest release 33,481.48 of the fashionable Glork framework, first written last year. The current avionics have not been tested, of course, but we are all very excited".

      Or we could put up with sad, boring old Ada - nearly 30 years old, and socially unacceptable, whose only virtue is that it does tend to keep us alive.

  3. HCV

    I see no problem here

    I happen to prefer IMAP clients to web-based mail. Thunderbird has done pretty much exactly what I've wanted it to do for years now, so I'm very glad it's here. If it continues to exist and be maintained, I'm good.

    Feeping creaturism for its own sake is not required.

    1. Tim Bates

      Re: I see no problem here

      Totally agree.

      The only feature I can see improving Thunderbird is to make it talk natively to Exchange and give it some ability to be managed by Group Policy to tempt the business users.

  4. TrevorH


    But the bits that are missing from Thunderbird are the same bits that have always been missing: no calendaring and scheduling facilities. And, yes, I do know about Lightning but that's a very poor relation to the sort of thing that's in (shudder) Outlook. To get widespread adoption of Thunderbird as a fully fledged replacement for anything that's useful in an office environment needs this sort of stuff to be included.

    The entire open source calendaring landscape is mostly bare and what little there is doesn't work properly. Not just clients but servers too. It one area where there's nothing to touch the proprietary systems.

    1. Mike Henderson
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wait...

      Spot on Trevor.

      I hate to say it, but for me too Outlook is the 'killer app' me that keeps me on Windows.

      It also stops be agitating too vigourously for my employer to throw off the Microsoft Tax yoke: our organisation runs on Outlook calendaring and tasking, and without an alternative that is as well integrated in email, calendar, contacts and tasks as is LookOut, suggesting a change would be obviously and severely career limiting.

      I hate to say it, but Outlook is actually amazingly adequate.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Wait...

        I see the problem as being a lack of server infrastructre. Having a client does not compete with MS.

        We need direct integration with an always-on always connected server and we need more options. For personal use, that usually means google for mail and calendar. Kmail/Kontact/Kalendar does this relatively well. Mozilla could perhaps fork out for some decent aesthetics if they want to support that. We also need IM and voip - which often means google again and (diminishingly) skype, but really should be SIP.

        What would be handy would be a VM with all this bundled - email, SIP/IM, calendar etc for those who don't want to use a public service or who simply want to run their own infrastructure. Some load-balancing options wouldn't go amiss either so that companies can just add more servers with the same image, perhaps organised by bonjour or linux-ha or whatever for larger companies. Companies also need some wiki-like system if you want to avoid sharepoint.

        Then you need a client which integrates all these well. Outlook does it does look reasonably good, but outlook without exchange is probably not a great proposition.

        Integration is key - people need a complete working system (or at least see a working one) before jumping ship from a large vendor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait...

          For what it's worth... I've been busy implementing calendaring in OpenERP for some time now.

          It is not as easy as it sounds. iCalendar is a pain to understand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wait...

            keep up the good work on OpenERP. it seemed very promising when i installed it last time.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait...

          "Integration is key - people need a complete working system"

          Says who? Lotus Notes man?

          Actually, I agree with your statement, but please note that an integrated system does not equal a single monolithic application (such as Notes), not even a single vendor.

          Personally, I would be quite happy with Mozilla adding a D-Bus interface to Thunderbird, then we can integrate with other applications, each of which does one task well.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

            Re: Wait...

            Well I DON'T want integration with calendars etc. I use an absolutely minimal email client that just works, day after day, year after year. For everything else there's copy and paste. I never have to wonder where something went, or where it came from or why 50 people have just received an email telling them that today is my girlfriend's birthday.

        3. Mark 65

          Re: Wait...

          @P.Lee: I don't know much in this area but would the Zimbra appliance cover this, in part?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wait...

            I've used Zimbra. I will try very hard never to do so again. That URL was badly chosen, more like turkey than turnkey...

            1. Tim Bates

              Re: never Zimbra

              Could be worse - I've had the "pleasure" of dealing with Zimbra and Scalix. At least Zimbra isn't Scalix.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wait...

        Spot on! Were it not for Outlook we would have abandoned Windows years ago ... the plain fact is that Outlook is on everyone's PC and via some collaboration software / shared folders etc (MDaemon/Outlook Connector) stores the entire company communications as customer records ... going back in around '96 I think. The mail store (IMAP) is about 16-20Gb all told.

        Quite simply - if there is one program that defines Microsoft for us then it's Outlook. Sure, we have the Office programs too but nobody uses them ... Word is crap - but Outlook is fantastic!

        I'd love to find another program with the same feature set as Outlook ... but there's nothing out there that works that well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wait...

          I have a limited amount of sympathy with the "[xyz[ can't compete with Outlook" story.

          I've seen lots of places where the IT people can't make Outlook calendaring, delivery receipts, etc, work across multiple servers on one site let alone multiple sites.

          I've seen *one* place where the IT people had enough clue to make Outlook actually workable across mutliple servers (possibly even across multiple sites).

          So yes, competing with a properly implemented Outlook can be tricky.

          But from what I've seen, the majority of Outlook/Exchange setups are *not* done properly.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wait...

        "...our organisation runs on Outlook calendaring and tasking, and without an alternative that is as well integrated in email, calendar, contacts and tasks as is LookOut, suggesting a change would be obviously and severely career limiting".

        Yes, very true. I seem to recall the last company that tried to launch a serious alternative to the Outlook complex was, what, about 16 years ago. Netscape or something like that.

        I wonder what happened to them?

      4. NogginTheNog

        Re: Wait...

        Exactly Mike - the same reason Android's a continued FAIL for me.

    2. frank ly

      @Trevor re. Lightning

      As far as I can see (I may not have looked deep enough), Lightning only falls down on not being able to integrate with Google Tasks, if you want that. Given that there seem to be dozens of Android apps that integrate with google Tasks then I can't see why this should be so difficult.

      I use Lightning as a 'laptop front end' to my Google Calendars since the Lightning UI is so much nicer that the Google web interface. Also, Lightning will interface with calendars on my home-based FTP server and a hosted FTP server that I use. All in all it's very flexible, except for the Task limitations.

      I haven't tried the collaboration aspects so there may be some slip-ups that I haven't noticed.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait...

      "But the bits that are missing from Thunderbird are the same bits that have always been missing: no calendaring and scheduling facilities".

      Of course I have the big advantage of being a one-man outfit, so I don't have to worry about finding which month I can get a given 34 people together for the same hour, or whether conference room G is available Wednesday morning.

      But I find it quite ironic that my calendaring and scheduling are still done on Lotus Organizer 6. It does a good job, and I have no need to look for an alternative. (Although it does get a bit boring loading up all the floppies when I set up a new Windows system because the old one has reached Cruft Force 8).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait...

      "But the bits that are missing from Thunderbird are the same bits that have always been missing: no calendaring and scheduling facilities"

      I would have never thought that calendaring and scheduling would be sine qua non features of an email application. I would have thought the requirements would be more like, say, composing, sending, receiving, and storing emails.

      KISS and all that.

  5. pierce

    as a long term Thunderbird user, my biggest complaints revolve around its plain text editor getting mixed up with rich text pastes, and what happens when you switch from rich to plain or back... it just doesn't handle that gracefully.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Yes, that plain/HTML bug annoys me a lot.

      Also the in-line spell checker 'forgetting' to check a whole paragraph, etc, if you just did an edit. Buggy since V2 I think. Finally on my annoyance list is the inability to run filters on the "global" inbox, meaning if you have several email accounts and use the unified folders thing (which I like) you need to define multiple filters.

      Email is long established, just fix the bugs please! Oh and give us back coloured button text - that black text only crap is not so good for quick recognition.

      1. AlexV

        Can't do much about the bugs, but coloured icons...

        Also removes the glass effect (which is a bonus for me, but I guess if you like the effect...)

        1. Jordan Davenport

          Re: Can't do much about the bugs, but coloured icons...

          I actually do like a LITTLE of the glass effects, but I can't stand the extent to which they're used in Firefox with tabs on bottom or in Thunderbird in Vista/7. I found other themes such as Silvermel for Thunderbird to fix that a while back when setting it up on my mother's laptop.

  6. Tank boy

    About time

    I wonder who at Mozilla had the stones to tell the boss that T-Bird was deader than fried chicken? I suspect that person now works elsewhere.

  7. Mike Flugennock

    So... let me get this straight...

    They're basically going to just concentrate on stability and not loading up T'Bird with any more bells'n'whistles?

    Huh, works for me.

    And no, I'm not about to shift all my email communications over to Web-based services. I have a couple of backup accounts on Gmail for those rare times when my own domains' email servers have problems, but actually use Web mail as my main email? Not a chance in hell.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So where are the $300 million Google puts in, tax free, per year going to?

  9. Phil Bennett


    As one of a (small?) overlap between Gmail and Thunderbird, I find this annoying:

    Thunderbird may claim more than 20 million users, but Gmail alone boasts 425 million active users worldwide

    Yes, true. And hotmail has how many users? And myspace has how many users? Can we get past some kind of signup metric, because it isn't exactly useful, especially for legacy services, to looking at active user numbers?

    1. ZweiBlumen
      Thumb Up

      Re: Overlap...

      Very true.

      I have about 3 Gmail accounts for myself and about 20-30 created for various projects I use. I never log onto Gmail for any of these. Guess what? I access them through Thunderbird.

    2. Tim Bates

      Re: Overlap...

      I agree - I have a GMail account and a Hotmail account... I use neither for email. In fact, 90% of email that goes into them is so obviously spam I'm surprised it gets in there in the first place.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tabbed birds?

    I dumped thunderbird when the tabbed crap started to appear without any way to get rid of all the crap. Sure; you could change stuff in the registry and such but that would hide /certain/ behaviour but not get rid of it entirely.

    TO me those tabs proof that some people should really reconsider what they're doing it all for. I moved to SeaMonkey and used it for a long time for both browsing and email. Guess what?

    Only half a year later did I suddenly discover that SeaMonkey supported tabbed e-mail too. Only because I got curious and wondered "what would happen if I control-double click here?".

    Thunderbird (right after the upgrade from the "clean" version) revealed this monstrosity within 2 minutes after starting up the program.

    IMO that's your real problem right there.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: tabbed birds?

      Im using Thunderbird 12 on Linux so it maybe different than under Windows but you can turn off tabbed emails if you don't like it as i have on my Tbird.

      Preferences > Advanced > Reading & Display > Open new messages in: New tab, New Window, Existing Window (which every you prefer)

      When they claim Thunderbird has 20 million users I am assuming thats the number of downloads from the Mozilla website? It may well have more than that as it comes pre-installed in a lot of Linux distro's so those installs wouldn't have been counted.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Where does this leave SeaMonkey - Re: tabbed birds?

      Glad someone mentioned SeaMonkey.

      Perhaps their e-mail fixes will go back into TB?

  11. Robert E A Harvey


    It would have been nice to fix the decades old problems still in the bugzilla, mainly for the usenet filtering and blacklisting ideas.

  12. zen1

    lovely plumage, the norwegian blue

    While I have a gmail account (for all my spam) my ISP provides me with a nice smtp server that I've been using for years. Sure, there's a web client, but as another poster brilliantly put it, I can at least back up my mail to my media, and I can export my contacts to a CSV file, do whatever the hell I want with them and not worry about them getting held hostage like they did with that bastard live mail crap from M$ (Yet another brilliantly executed gaff, Mr. Ballmer). While I've never been a man of extreme violence, for the longest time I wanted to find the tool who sold that little feature to the dev team and punch him in the neck.

    Oh, and not worry about them getting sucked into facebook, google+ or whatever the social fad of the day is popping at the time.

    I don't have to worry about adverts pandering to the general theme of the email, popping up in the right side of the screen.

    Yes the UI is annoying but at least it's not outlook! Some of us prefer a simple, spartan, utilitarian email client and not the ever changing abomination that Microsoft (et. al) evolve into every year or so.

  13. Old Handle

    So wait...

    Does this mean they won't be updating Thunderbird's UI every 2 weeks and integrating social media plug-ins like they're doing with Firefox? Excellent!

    1. Vic

      Re: So wait...

      > Excellent!

      I was thinking just the same. I would far prefer Mozilla stop pissing about with the UI and get on with fixing bugs.

      A bit less "moving the buttons around" and a bit more "not leaking so much memory" would do very nicely, thnakyouverymuch.


  14. David 45

    Less is more

    Perhaps they have been going a little too fast for comfort.

  15. Aquilus

    So they're pretty much saying that Thunderbird is feature-complete, and are only going to deal with bugfixes/stability issues? Fantastic! Works for me.

    Don't forget, it has the ability to support addons, so anything not in the core can be added by third parties if you really want it. Otherwise, just leave it alone, it sends and receives email which is what an email client should do...

  16. jake Silver badge

    My email reader/writer is ...

    vi on a simple ASCII text terminal.

    eMail is written text. Use gopher, or the web, for fancy stuff if you can't express yourself in the written language you were brought up with. Won't make you any smarter, but it'll give those of us with an education another "here be idiots" to filter on ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Rise of the Neo-Luddites

      My email client is shitter/older/less feature rich than yours

    2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: My email reader/writer is ...

      Vi? Pah! N00b!

      Ed rules. Why use a full-screen text editor when a perfectly good old-school line editor option is available?

      Full-screen editors are for idiots who only think they're good with computers.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Thing is, STB ... (was: Re: My email reader/writer is ...)

        ... I'm not trolling (this time).

        I actually do use vi & a dumb terminal for most of my email :-)

        As a side-note for the real n00b5, vi is just a shell on top of ex, which was an improved variation on ed ... Note CAPS. Computers are literal. C4s3 is kinda important, skiddies opinions not withstanding.

        1. kain preacher

          Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)

          Edlin any body ? Runs off and hides in the corner.

          1. Martin 71 Silver badge

            Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)

            I'd purged edlin from my mind. Thanks so much for undoing all those years of therapy

            1. jake Silver badge

              @Martin & Kain ... (was: Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...))

              What's wrong with edlin? Scriptable line editors are useful, regardless of OS.

          2. Al Jones

            Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)

            @kain preacher : "Edlin any body ? Runs off and hides in the corner."

            Well, I still use the function keys when working at a Command Prompt.

  17. cpage

    Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives

    You say that gmail has vastly more users, but you have no idea how many of those are actualy accessing their gmail accounts using a client like Thunderbird, as I do, so those figures have a large overlap, they are not alternatives. Personally I find webmail clients far too clunky for use (except when away from home using some one else's computer when I have no alternative).

    But Thunderbird has lots of annoying bugs that really need to get fixed, e.g. it sometimes doesn't alert you to new incoming mail, or it displays mails as unread long after you have read them all. As others have said its handling of plain vs HTML text and replies is not all that good either. As far as know Thunderbird is the best of the free mail clients, but it's surprising that it still has so many features that need fixing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives

      A curious coincidence is that this article appears just as I finally stopped using Eudora and moved to Tbird. For soem reason, inline images from Eudora seemed to have started causing my ISP problems recently, despite being fine for many years.

      So I now have Tbird, and it's set up, as was Eudora, to pull all the mail from my main ISP account, my own web space and domain provider, Gmail and Hotmail spam accounts. Seems to work OK at the moment, though I'm still teaching its spam filter.

      If all goes well, it should last as long as I do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives

        PS All webmail applications are DIRE.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Current Thunderbird users have that long, at least, to shop for a webmail service"

    What sort of crap is that?

    Its not like Thunderbird is going to vanish when they stop actively developing it.

  19. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I have to agree with cpage above. I too use TBird as a client to gmail and two other services. The user statistics only show a single TBird user but gmail and others services also get the statistical benefit. I do not, and will not, leave an email long term on any remote services ... all it needs is "sorry, someone somewhere did something naughty and the FBI have shut down the whole system for several months" and I'd be screwed ...

  20. Mark Honman

    May well be positive if they are first going to put some effort into stabilising it

    We have a lot of TB users here, and the main pain points are

    * bugs that haven't been fixed for years

    * the accursed upgrade treadmill confuses the users

    * add-on functionality that really should be core

    * the accursed upgrade treadmill breaks add-ons

    IMO they should look at integrating the add-ons that provide collaboration functionality (Lightning, the IMAP permissions thing, Folder Account, etc.), fix the bugs, and NOT MESS WITH THE UI. After that, maintenance mode... it's a solved problem, no need to keep turd-polishing.

    Ahem, please excuse the little scream of pain there.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: May well be positive if they are first going to put some effort into stabilising it

      The worst thing Mozilla has done is adopt Firefox's version numbering for Thunderbird. If Firefox's versioning looks a bit silly, Thunderbird's looks ridiculous.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with point releases to steadily fix the bugs and main releases to add big features (all that needs doing is tidying up the calendar and after that adding more collaborative features). We all know it's a fairly complete mail client, there's no need for it to be at version 13 even though few things have changed since version 3.

      Instead of being confident and happy in the fact that they have developed a stable and useful product it's as if Mozilla are embarrassed.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. frank ly

      Re: *It's done*

      "... it seems almost redundant to store mail on a local PC - ..."

      "I certainly don't have *any* email stored locally that old - except the important stuff."


      You don't have to store it on your 'PC' if you use Thunderbird. You can store it on a USB stick, or a local network drive (with whatever backup regime you decide on). You could backup your local storage onto a GDrive or Skydrive or Dropbox or SugarSync; or all of them just to be safe :)

    2. illiad

      Re: *It's done*

      "but the shift to webmail has been underway for a decade" yes, that the 'fashionable' thing...

      *everything* is great, lovely...until one day... INTERNET IS DOWN!!! how are you going to do all you important stuff then??

      Y'know that doc you received on webmail only last night at 2am, thinking , I can barely see, I'll do it tomorrow..

      - now if you were using a POP email client, like eudora, (yes, its FREE Open source now, for win, linux, and appple..)

      - It would load all your mail & attachments when doing the mail check, so that important Doc would be sitting in the 'attachment folder' ready to be printed out... no more internet needed... :)

      you DO know how to use google?? :p

      1. Aaron Em

        The counter-argument being

        that when the circuit goes down, nothing gets done anyway, so why bother trying? Makes a handy cop-out for the lazy, who don't appreciate someone like me switching to my local dev host and beavering right along while they all wander around with cups of coffee, whining just like they didn't enjoy getting paid to sit on their dead asses rather than, I don't know, justifying their paychecks somehow.

  22. Doug Glass


    1. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Re: Evolution

      Maybe if you are on Linux; but Linux is still poor in a lot of areas that Windows is very good at.

      A lot of stuff on Windows is just easier to do, I really would like this the change, in a "Killer App" way; however I need a pretty solid set of reasons to jump to Linux, and resolve the confusion of choice of which dist and shell all my stuff will work on. I may even prefer FreeBSD.

      On thing which might persuade me to jump is for the proper Directory Opus to be available on Linux, because the Linux file managers, quite frankly, look very primitive in comparison!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "linux is still poor in a lot of areas that windows is very good at"

        Probably. Having to work with windows for me means feeling terribly out of sorts, as none of my standard solutions work and I have to find out how to best do it in this strange, padded environment, which comes with an insultingly-useless caricature of a command prompt to boot.

        I wouldn't be surprised if for many the reverse is also true. "gnome? kde? don't make me laugh! gimme the windows desktop!" though knowing its inconsistencies and such, I have more respect for aqua users should they claim such a thing. To me, though, anything that needs a GUI is too much a cookie cutter for me to consider it generally useful. Even much CLI software written by authors of GUI apps tends to that. It's the difference in approach that paints the sky a different colour.

        Personally, my reasons to turn my back on windows (again and again; especially with first line support) were and are this cookie cutterisation, this inability to reach in deep and get the thing done exactly as quickly as much as you already knew your stuff. Instead I got a new layer of menus hiding the previous series (in toto!) behind yet another "advanced" button. My reasons to move to the land of BSD after several linux distributions were an eerily similar we-know-it-better-than-thou attitude, though expressed differently. I'll use it, sure, but it's not my preference.

        I also stopped trying to evangelise, exactly because I don't want what others want. Why should they want what I want, then? All I ask is workable interop. The sin of lock-in remains something I might demand someone else to change their ways, though.

        That also means thoughtless assumption of what system I should use is not acceptable, yet still all too common.

        Anyhow, it would help, and not just you, if you could articulate each thing where this or that system beats another as you run into it. Write it down, then write down the answers you find looking for solutions. It could well be a workable solution to get the job done already exists, even if the approach is completely different to what you're used to. This is how that german city finally managed to get a good move on migrating their "seats" to "linux", which now is more or less their own distribution packed with solutions for just about every job that their organisation needs to do.

        1. Aaron Em

          Re: "linux is still poor in a lot of areas that windows is very good at"

          Bet you do all your browsing in links, then, eh? I mean, anything that needs a GUI...

          Ever heard of Cygwin?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            So you think you can do facetious.

            That is, of course, entirely a false dichotomy. Instead, more sites should at least test their websites with text-only browsers to ensure that the basic information they have on offer is accessible that way, too. This isn't too useful for some sites, but is woefully neglected for many kinds of sites, like those serving train timetables and whatnot. If you *need* javascript, java, activex, or whatever, to access content that could equally well be served without, the content server is doing something horribly wrong.

            Dazzling with the clickibunti is more fancy than it is useful. If your site is about the content, focus on that. Note that failing to do that and the resulting overly fancy representation gives rise to extra work elsewhere, making screen-scrapers and keeping them up-to-date, to enable using the information the "old fashioned" way sticking it into impromptu pipelines and scripts and such. This is then "alleviated" by a large stack of yet more layers of software and bunches of the latest buzzwords such as SOAP and REST* and such. This blatant reinventing of the wheel is called "progress", and if you point out the obvious you're apparently a stick-in-the-mud. Oh well.

            * The idea behind REST isn't bad, per se. The fact that it got snowed under and we need a buzzword to rescue the idea, however, is just sad.

            1. Aaron Em

              Re: So you think you can do facetious.

              It's so cute you think I'm agitating for Web 2-point-everything, rather than simply making the point that your hyperbole is showing.

    2. Paul 129

      Re: Evolution

      Evolution looks ugly! But it works well! I most often use a x2go session to my home server, so not complaining about being open in multiple desktops is a plus.

  23. Infernoz Bronze badge

    Hmm, shortsighted

    No web based clients are not viable for duration use; you need an internet connection and a working connection to the email server, both can fail. A local client is also critical just-in-case an IMAP service loses you account or you stop using an IMAP service, so that you can continue to retrieve old emails.

    There is lots which could be done with Thunderbird and it will need to provide new infrastructure to allow better extensions to be created. As stated, Lightening still needs a lot of work e.g. where is the diary view which will show both appointments and tasks!?

    Outlook cost a lot of money, it has annoyances like no RSS support, has security coexistence issues, and it is a Microsoft product, need I say more.

    I was also hoping that an Android version of Thunderbird could be produced, given even K-9 Mail seems somewhat less than I'd like.

    Where is the proper HTML 5 support going to come from for Thunderbird eh!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm, shortsighted

      Outlook has had RSS support since at least as far back as the 2007 edition. I don't like the implementation and don't use it, but it's there. In terms of UI design and usability it's not much different from several of the FOSS RSS clients.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gmail vs Thunderbird

    [ Insert 93.76% of all statistics are made-up joke here ]

    The author has kind of let me down there when he wrote that "Thunderbird may claim more than 20 million users, but Gmail alone boasts 425 million active users worldwide".

    Where do those numbers come from? Are the Thunderbird numbers direct downloads or do they include distro-managed installs? How is an "active Gmail user" defined? Is a Gmail account that only ever receives but does not send messages considered active? (automatic Cc's / copying as a poor-man's but convenient backup) What is the overlap between the two groups? E.g., I have a Gmail account which I only ever access via Thunderbird.

    Raw numbers are meaningless here.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see Mozilla read El Reg

    ...or at least Dominic Connor's articles, and I see they're putting his "visible productivity" advice to work.

    Why sit here fixing bugs all day when you could be annoying the shit out of users by changing the UI every six weeks? Let's all move over to Firefox! :)

    [[Category:Cynicism ]]

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For those too busy or lazy to have read it, I recommend that you do take the time and have a look at the Pastebin link ( ), especially the uploader's personal comment at the end.

    I particularly like his epilogue:


    The fact that this message was marked "confidential" is part of a

    deeply, deeply troubling trend. The biggest irony? Uninitiated

    employees--those being discussed in .governance right now, and who

    feel that there's actually quite a lot at Mozilla that shouldn't

    happen in the public--will point to this incident to try to make their

    point, in a tremendous display of Not Fucking Getting It.

    Let's rewind a year or three, MoCo.


    Whoever you are, hats off to you, sir.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multilevel goof there, Neil.

    "Thunderbird may claim more than 20 million users, but Gmail alone boasts 425 million active users worldwide, and Gmail isn't the only web-based email service."

    There's two things shamefully wrong with that quote. First, gmail is two things: A free email service, and a webmail interface to same. The IMAP and POP services came later, but proved rather popular. And guess what, for IMAP you need an email client.

    So that comparison doesn't fly. The other is that numbers in the open source world are always a bit iffy. As they are with free services, by the by, but for different reasons and with different implications. How does one count thunderbird installations accurately and what, exactly, is an "active user" according to google? Google plus counting comes to mind. But the apples to fruit baskets full of oranges comparison takes the cake.

  28. dbcooperdk

    Needs better User Experience/UI

    If you're interested in contributing to Thunderbird in order to improve its UX, then the "parity with Postbox" meta-bug would be a good place to start.

    Devs like Mike Conley will still be working on Thunderbird.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no suprises

    As a long time Thunderbird user, I got frustrated by the lack of development and long standing annoying bugs. It was also always a bloated package.

    I have seen the light though. Since using opera's M2, I haven't looked back. It took a while to appreciate the differences, as they are subtle. But I wouldn't use anything else now. I the IMAP support is way better than TB, supporting stuff like low bandwidth partial sync and other stuff.

  30. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Shop for a webmail service?

    Am I understanding correctly? Are you saying that Mozilla people will be dispatched around and uninstall Thunderbird from machines? Are they going to send a secret "kill" signal that will prevent existing Thunderbird installs from working? Or will them even make it unavailable for download?

    One of my users still uses Pegasus. When was the last time anything at all (including security patches or bug fixes) was added to that? The nineties? And still the guy seems to be able to read his emails just fine. Funny that.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apples vs oranges

    i.e local mail client collecting mail via (e.g.) IMAP versus some webmail client / server designed for corporate data mining.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Please do the same to Firefox!?! I'm sick and tired of GUI changes. :P

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not quite dead yet...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thunderbird works great for our 200+ staff

    I hope the updates keep coming for Thunderbird in a timely manner. It is a great product and has plenty enough features. Thunderbird works great for our 200+ staff, a couple of dozen staff also use the Lightning plugin. We use a Zimbra backend which gives us the webmail/calendar interface too, plus smartphones all integrate reliably. We have done so for many years, no rocket science required.

    All for free for us too. We don't need Windows, Windows CALS, Exchange, Exchange CALS, extra anti-virus security, powerful servers, etc.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    There are some new generation Starbucks/ apple guys at Mozilla who always thought "mail" is old fashion, like the legendary "only old people use mail".

    And, there are fortune 500 companies who can't give up Microsoft for a very simple (!) application, outlook.

    Lost all my belief in Mozilla long time ago.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh my...

    After years of using Pegasus Mail, I switched to progressive new kid on the block - Mozilla Mail. Those were the heady days, when Mozilla was the pioneer, the bleeding edge, the future - nicely wrapped in a single integrated suite.

    Now it seems possible that I will have to eat my humble pie and... well, PMail is still here, you know?

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Oh my...

      Pegasus is coded by a single developer who really feels responsible for his users (customers) and who is very professional.

      If Mozilla developers heard the language Pegasus was developed in, they would make funny faces and keep checking their google mail on their macs.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Has anybody tried it? The desktop client can be downloaded and used without the Zimbra server, and it looks to be aimed at replacing Outlook. Now owned and developed by VMWare, it seems.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SeaMonkey is my favourite by a country mile

    Nobody said it so I thought I would. That is all.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thunderbird has been going downhill

    Seems like every new version adds some kind of toolbar or search box or tab bar or quick filter bar etc. The whole thing looks like a giant mess to me now. Also the search features don't work well. Using the quick search seems to fail randomly 50% of the time. (Just returns nothing.) Multi-word search is horrific. I switch to Google's web interface to do any serious searching. Also the UI is a huge pain if you have ANY network connectivity problems. It's just a never-ending stream of dialog boxes. ("Can't send this email OK/Cancel, can't save it to drafts OK/Cancel, etc. etc.")

    I'm in the process of switching to OS X's bundled mail client ("Mail"). Seems lighter weight, snapper, cleaner UI...

    1. Gorbachov

      Re: Thunderbird has been going downhill

      OS X Mail is horrible. Heaps of non-standard crud, stupid mail indexing and a clunky interface. Yuck!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually what they're saying is

    Decent email clients have become a commodity. I don’t buy the argument that the email client is dead. Ask an iPhone or iPad user. Even Windows 8 has a pretty nice metro client (a lot nicer than Windows Live Mail, which I think still had code from Outlook Express 4 inside it somewhere). The bar has been raised too high, so why compete. Concentrate on the browser instead.

    One thing I will miss is the fact it was a decent Newsreader.

  41. Cyfaill

    The Computer you own

    As has been said before...

    They can have my hard drive when they pull it from my cold dead fingers.

    Use Linux... Icedove the secure version of Thunderbird ( or something else ) will be around for some time... so will Thunderbird, hopefully.

    Yes, Mobile is here, now... it will not go away, that’s fine.

    The desktop may fade into the hands of those who can use it, those who understand that the web is fragile and ephemeral. However, those who may wish to Kill desktop computing and put it into the cloud completely can literally call up these words... Give me liberty or give me death, just expect a fight.

    Its not that I am riled up about a single project but the trend to abandon desktop computing is getting more traction than is justly deserved. have you actually tried to use a mobile device... as a computer, without the frustration of no "keyboard" or "mouse" a touchscreen is a waste of time when it gets serious.

  42. ZenCoder

    I don't see this as a problem.

    Thunderbird does everything I need it to do.

    1) automatically setups gmail, hotmail, yahoo, aol accounts via a simple wizzard.

    2) works correctly with both pop and IMAP

    3) optional unification of inboxes and other folders

    4) addons to reorder account listings

    5) addons to find and delete duplicate messages

    6) addon to sync with google contacts

    I can't think of any new and exciting features I would want added, if they keep what hey have working smoothly I'm a happy camper.

  43. Anonymous Cowherder

    I like thunderbird

    Been using it for over 5 years with multiple IMAP accounts and my old hotmail account, the integrated inbox makes sure I see email I need to and the filtering options means the mail lists I am on and the turgid crap work send me are put in their own nice little folders.

    Search could be improved and the plain/html issue already discussed needs refining. I'm happy with lightning, it integrates well with my google calendar, tasks would be nice but I can cope with using wunderlist for those. Maybe if lightning was built into the core application we might get some better usability but I'm not sure what.

    I would hate to see it go the way of many other pieces of software and dwindle away, we need a good thunderbird to provide an alternative to outlook and the microsoftification of email, outlook isn't the only fruit.

    1. Al Jones

      Re: I like thunderbird

      "Search could be improved "

      Every time I try to search for an old e-mail in Thunderbird, I briefly wonder if I'd be better off migrating back to Outlook Express.

      That's how crap the search functionality is in Thunderbird!

  44. seansaysthis

    Mail clients aren't exciting. They aren't very web 2.0 but they are very useful. Having a local store of your emails especially in business is vital. Web mail is useful for short stints but if you are in an environment where you write more than 5 emails a day of more than a few paragraphs then a dedicated mail client is the way to go.

    The fact is that the all of the Linux email clients have been inferior to Outlook. Outlook is one of the few products that MS nailed. It is very difficult to give up the integrated messaging, calender, contacts and collaboration once you get used to it. It does cost a lot but your paying for the productivity boast. Large enterprises need this kind of capability and are willing to pay for it.

    I use Thunderbird on my Linux Mint and Ubuntu set ups , I even installed it for my Mother. She loves it because it works and it makes email simple she has all of her email contacts in once place and the interface is pretty easy to understand. I would be sad to see it loose the little support Thunderbird gets from Mozilla but its their product and they are entitled to do this if they feel their resources would be better spent elsewhere. I wonder if the the libre office team might take up the baton. The office productivity suites on Linux really do need a lot of love and a polished functional email client is a must.

  45. oroboros

    Innovate? Inovate what?

    As a Thunderbird user I have to meeting this news with... indifference. Thunderbird is an email client that does exactly what it should. What else does it have to do? Sure, everybody is using gmail now, but what is so innovative about it? Once you get past the fancy UI gewgaws the only "innovation" I see is that whenever I send or receive an email that contains the word underpants the UI displays an ad for underpants. Some innovation!

    Email clients are more or less the same as they have been for years and don't need to do more, I'll take Thunderbird as it is and wake me when a real change is afoot.

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