Mozilla's T-Bird 3 to get calendar, search, UI, config, add-on improvements in late 2008-early 2009

Mozilla's T-Bird 3 to get calendar, search, UI, config, add-on improvements in late 2008-early 2009

Summary: The newly minted Mozilla e-mail subsidiary has moved out of stealth mode and is targeting the release of the next generation of Thunderbird for late 2008.The open source Thunderbird 3, now under development, will feature integrated calendaring, better search, easier configuration, significant user interface improvements and better extensibility, said Mozilla Messaging Inc, the newly named subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation.

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ThunderbirdThe newly minted Mozilla e-mail subsidiary has moved out of stealth mode and is targeting the release of the next generation of Thunderbird for late 2008.

The open source Thunderbird 3, now under development, will feature integrated calendaring, better search, easier configuration, significant user interface improvements and better extensibility, said Mozilla Messaging Inc, the newly named subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation.

The plan is to incorporate into Thunderbird 3 the existing open source “Lightning” calendar, which is currently offered an add-on extension to the 10-month-old Thunderbird 2. Sun Microsystems is a major contributor to the Lightning project.

Of course, there’s really nothing new or surprising here. Tehy're shotting for release by the end of the year but acknowledge it could slip into 2009 depending on developer input. The biggest news today is the official re-launch of the Mozilla Foundation’s open source e-mail project, which to date has failed to garner as much momentum as its star sibling, the open source Firefox browser.

In September, the foundation announced that it would spin off the e-mail project as part of its Internet Mail and Communications Initiative and create a new subsidiary and management team to lead the re-launch.

As noted today, Mozilla Messaging Inc named to its board of directors David Ascher, a former development lead at (open source IDE firm) ActiveState and Mozilla Messaging’s new CEO, Chris Beard, a Mozilla veteran product manager and VP and General Manager of Mozilla Labs, and Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB (and user of Thunderbird since 2004).

Mozilla Messaging now has the funding, management and developer support it needs to catapult Thunderbird to the top. And while the days of being overshadowed by Firefox may be over, Thunderbird has a tough race ahead trying to steal the spotlight away from top seeded e-mail rivals.

Microsoft’s Outlook and Google Mail are – and will continue to be -- dominant players in the web e-mail client area. And there are several other open source e-mail efforts – including Qualcomm’s forthcoming Eudora open source e-mail add-on for Thunderbird, a joint project between Qualcomm and Mozilla!

Nevertheless, Mozilla Messaging execs are exuding confidence about Thunderbird’s prospects going forward – based on the upcoming Thunderbird 3 and core architectural features of Firefox that can be parlayed for the e-mail masses. Mozilla Messaging, for example, plans to use the Firefox extensibility engine to build a big add-on development comunity around T-Bird.

In his blog today, Ascher notes that Thunderbird has a robust web stack that can integrate powerfully with web sites and web services, making it ideal as a collaboration platform for integrating IM, IRC, VoIP, blogging, social networking and other web 2.0 communications experiences.

“In parallel, we’re going to be starting a multi-year process of improving the back-end architecture of Thunderbird,” Ascher wrote. “Over the years, Thunderbird hasn’t had the resources devoted to it that Firefox has, and it’s time to catch up, so that we can implement many of the features we have planned, and so that we can take advantage of the improvements to the Mozilla platform that were built for Firefox, but which we can leverage as well.”

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Open Source, Oracle, Software

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7 comments
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  • But When...

    ... will it have support to sync calendars and contacts with my smart phone? T-Bird is useless to me until then and I'm still stuck with Outlook.
    txscott
  • Finally!

    I've been using Thunderbird for a long time now since it presents my multiple accounts to me in a better manner than Outlook or other clients I have looked at. GMail is my primary provider, but I only use the web interface at work. I much prefer a desktop client when at home. I recently pointed a blogging acquaintence towards Thunderbird, and she loves it.

    I've always been disappointed that Thunderbird has pretty much gone stale and have wanted more functionality, UI improvements, etc. I'm excited to see that they are going to put some serious work into it now. I'm sure more people will pick it up once these improvements are added.
    AbbydonKrafts
    • Agreed

      I've been using Thunderbird as my email client since 1.5, and it's good to see more life breathed into it. I'm also using gmail (now) as my main provider at home, but have also used it with my work email (IMail) and other providers. I am using the Lightning plugin, and it really makes sense that it's fully integrated. There are a couple other plugins that should be fully integrated as well, such as the contact sidebar (I find Lightning and Contact sidebar to be the two indispensables plugins). It will also be interesting to see how they spur new plugins to expand on collaboration, such as plugins for IM, VOIP, Journal, etc., along with further interoperability with platforms such as Exchange.

      I do need to point out that Google should not be listed as a competitor, as they are a webmail provider, though their webmail interface is better than most. While Outlook is the obvious competitor to gun for, there are other similar clients to list, such as Evolution.
      jheine
  • RE: Mozilla's T-Bird 3 to get calendar, search, UI, config, add-on improvements in late 2008-early 2009

    So this means that instead of 1st quarter 2008, we all have to wait for end of year 2008 or early 2009 for TBird 3?

    TBird 2.xxx is already worn out, and is in need of a few light fixes and a very few relatively simple additions to address oversights.

    Sounds strongly like none of this will happen until way late.

    What a waste.
    JoeRJr
    • TBird 3 too late... TBird 2 Needy Already

      So this means that instead of 1st quarter 2008, we all have to wait for end of year 2008 or early 2009 for TBird 3?

      TBird 2.xxx is already worn out, and is in need of a few light fixes and a very few relatively simple additions to address oversights.

      Sounds strongly like none of this will happen until way late.

      What a waste.

      ( We need a way to Edit these messages AFTER submitting them. )
      JoeRJr
  • RE: Mozilla's T-Bird 3 to get calendar, search, UI, config, add-on improvem

    After struggling for eight weeks to make Outlook play nice I gave up and went back to Thunderbird and added Lightning. I think it walks all over Outlook 2007 and I don't see any reason why a fully integrated Thunderbird/Lightning/Task program shouldn't take a huge chunk of the market away from Outlook. It's already ten times better.
    Perry
    AudioArch
  • T-Bird market share

    After struggling for eight weeks to make Outlook play nice I gave up and went back to Thunderbird and added Lightning. I think it walks all over Outlook 2007 and I don't see any reason why a fully integrated Thunderbird/Lightning/Task program shouldn't take a huge chunk of the market away from Outlook. It's already ten times better.
    Perry
    AudioArch