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 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.