Thunderbird will no longer be developed by Mozilla, that much is certain. But that doesn't mean that the open-source outfit is abandoning all development on the desktop email client. Instead, Mozilla is committing itself to releasing security and stability updates for the foreseeable future.
But it won't be adding any new features
since it won't have that many people working on the project from now on. To the 20 million or so people that rely on Thunderbird, this is not good news.
It may not be as bad as it sounds though, Mozilla has been looking at getting the community involved, i.e. have contributors work on new features they'd like to see in Thunderbird. It hasn't had much luck so far, but maybe things will improve now that its fate is sealed.
"Thunderbird is one of the very few truly free and open source multi-platform email applications available today and we want to defend these values. It also has an active community of contributors, developing new features and addons, helping people and translating the product around the world," Mozilla wrote
"Therefore, we are proposing to adapt the Thunderbird release and governance model in a way that allows both ongoing security and stability maintenance, as well as community-driven innovation and development for the product," it said clarifying its position.
While many times when a project is open-sourced, it's already dead, that doesn't always have to be the case. In fact, one of the best examples of a piece of software that, while not exactly thriving, survived its abandonment quite well is from Mozilla's backyard, the SeaMonkey project.
is the continuation of the old Mozilla browser, which can trace its history to Netscape and which was supplanted by Firefox. SeaMonkey may not have a huge following, but it is regularly being updated and is still maintained after several years, despite being a purely community-driven project.
On the other hand, while SeaMonkey is still alive, it's increasingly hard to justify using it, especially as Firefox continues to add interesting new development tools. At this point, the only big difference between SeaMonkey and Firefox, from a feature standpoint, is the integrated mail, newsfeed and IRC clients.