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Summary:

Mozilla Foundation today announced the formation of a new subsidiary group titled Mozilla Messaging.  The new group will be focused on taking Mozilla’s mail client Thunderbird to the next level of competitiveness against established mail clients, including Microsoft Outlook.  David Ascher will head the new subsidiary […]

ThunderbirdMozilla Foundation today announced the formation of a new subsidiary group titled Mozilla Messaging.  The new group will be focused on taking Mozilla’s mail client Thunderbird to the next level of competitiveness against established mail clients, including Microsoft Outlook.  David Ascher will head the new subsidiary that is not only aimed at email, but Internet communications, as stated on in his blog post announcing the new group.

Mozilla’s Thunderbird, currently in version 2, has been an arguably successful project.  It is a cross-platform mail client that has picked up of a lot of steam just in the latest version.  Thunderbird is available in many languages and has offered non-enterprise email users advanced innovation in mail clients, after Microsoft left this audience hanging with its paltry Outlook Express.  Thunderbird 2 offered users advanced folder views, message tagging, saved searches, and easy access to Web mail services including .Mac and Gmail.

However in Ascher’s blog post he admits what many web workers and Internet enthusiasts know deep in their hearts: email is broken.  There hasn’t been any disruptive shifts in the space in over a decade.  Once thought as a revolutionary communication tool, it is apparent that over email, one cannot communicate expressively.  Email, by itself, is a fragmented transmission service.

Mozilla Foundation, by spinning off Messaging into its own entity, hopes to carry on the success that the Firefox browser has enjoyed with the upcoming Thunderbird 3 release.  New features Ascher has mentioned for Thunderbird 3 include: an integrated calendaring application, better search facilities, easier configuration, and undisclosed user interface improvements.

Additionally, Ascher has mentioned the group may investigate the Extensible Message and Presence Protocol (XMPP) that is currently used by the Jabber IM service and Google Talk.  Acher is quoted in saying, “That kind of techonlogy might make its way into Thunderbird someday.”  What would result?  Potentially, a powerhouse Thunderbird messaging application that would incorporate email, instant message, and calendaring.

These developments are exciting because of one thing Mozilla does exceptionally well: listening to the community of users and developers of their products and quickly rolling this feedback into new features and capabilities in their exceptional software.  It will be very exciting to see the results of these new developments.

  1. I am so glad to see someone say the e-mail is broken and has been for over 10 years. We hear all the time about how the “web” has evolved but for all practical purposes e-mail has been stagnant. Integration with calendering is nothing new. We have at that with Outlook and similar programs for some time but to mature we do need to address more things like secure storage, secure messaging (hardly anyone I know of uses secure e-mail) and while services like Yousendit.com are nice they are a complicated work around to what e-mail should be.

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  2. As long as they keep it simple. The thing I love about Thunderbird is it’s simple to use and loads quickly (Outlook takes forever to load).

    A calendar is needed to get business users, but hopefully it will be an option or plugin that can be turned off.

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  3. I’m not at all convinced that email has been broken for a decade, or that “one cannot communicate expressively” in email. Sure, there are other means of communication, but just as the telephone did not spell the end of letters, IM and its ilk will not spell the end of email. There’s a real benefit in lengthy, asynchronous communication, and email offers the advantages of the letter and of practically instantaneous, reliable transmission. And as for communicating expressively–take time to craft your emails, folks. Get to the point, eliminate filler, write boldly, and your emails will be as expressive as you want. Have you ever had the experience of reading a gossipy email that was erroneously sent to a mailing list instead of the intended recipient? Tell me, after reading one of those, that email can’t be expressive!

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  4. The world doesn’t need another email client with some trivial evolutionary updates. If they really want it to do messaging circa 2008, as you noted they’ll need integration with other services such as IM and Twitter.

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  5. [...] 20th, 2008 (4:00pm) Samuel Dean No Comments This week, Mozilla’s cross-platform e-mail client Thunderbird has been getting a lot of attention because Mozilla has announced a new subsidiary focused on it. [...]

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