Mozilla Thunderbird Lookin' For a Little Respect

It’s hard when no matter how good you are, your brother is still everyone’s darling.

Mozilla Thunderbird is a rather amazing email client in its own right. It’s quick on its feet, it’s customizable, it’s cross-platform, and it handles IMAP email and identities better than most of its competition in the desktop email client space. Despite Thunderbird’s obvious advantages, Firefox is Mozilla’s crown jewel and gets all of Daddy’s love. Does Thunderbird continue to grovel for table scraps or is it time to strike out in new territory?

Mozilla has declared a “call to action” asking users to weigh in on the future of Thunderbird.

Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla, discusses possible paths for Thunderbird, while stating that the organization has no intention of diverting its focus from the web.

Mozilla is exploring the options for an organization specifically focused on serving Thunderbird users. A separate organization focused on Thunderbird will both be able to move independently and will need to do so to deepen community and user involvement. We’re not yet sure what this organization will look like.

A simplified view of the 3 options she proposes:

Create a new non-profit organization analogous to the Mozilla Foundation – Thunderbird gets its own room to play in, completely separate from Mozilla as it is today.

Create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird – Will be easier for the company to do, but Thunderbird will continue to be the awkward little brother in the corner.

Thunderbird is released as a community project – Go open source, and provide consulting to continue ongoing development.

Baker goes a step further and suggests that the time may be right to turn Mail upside down…similar to the way Firefox “redefined” the web years ago.

Do you care if Thunderbird lives or dies? For all of Thunderbird’s quirks, and there are many, I know I can’t find another desktop email client that runs on Mac OS X that will satisfy my needs as much as Thunderbird has. I hope development continues and it gets the attention it deserves. Email is not dead. Desktop email is not a dinosaur.

As folks who live in email and aren’t necessarily tied to corporate Outlook and Exchange, what’s the web worker take?

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