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Mozilla to Free Up Eudora

There was a time when Qualcomm's Eudora e-mail program was one of the most-used applications in the world. That time is long gone.

The company announced today that it would cease producing commercial versions of Eudora, which it has been using and developing since 1991 when the project started as a freeware effort.

It's going to be entirely free again, once it becomes an open source application with a little help from Mozilla.

Starting in the first half of 2007, Eudora will be rooted in the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail application. The Thunderbird project got started back in February 2003 at Mozilla as a standalone e-mail spin off from the Mozilla Browser suite.

Frank Hecker, executive director for the Mozilla Foundation, told internetnews.com that there is no financial value to the deal.

"Qualcomm will simply be participating as part of the overall Mozilla project in exactly the same way that other companies participate: by contributing developer time to help build products that incorporate Mozilla code," Hecker said.

"Since Mozilla is an open source project any company is free to participate in this and other ways."

Hecker noted that he was not aware of Mozilla pursuing any partnership deals with other vendors for Thunderbird.

It's also not clear at this point whether there will be any Mozilla branding present in the open source Eudora.

A Qualcomm spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Whether Mozilla's brand is apparent to Eudora's users doesn't necessarily matter, at least from a legal perspective.

"I should note that given that Thunderbird code (and other Mozilla code) is open source, Qualcomm (or anyone else) is free to release products using whatever branding is desired," Hecker said.

Mozilla Thunderbird developers are not expected to be contracted by Qualcomm to help with Eudora development as far as Hecker knows.

"Qualcomm has its own Eudora developers, and the Mozilla Corporation already employs people to work on both Thunderbird and the underlying Mozilla code (a lot of which is shared between Thunderbird and other products such as Firefox)," Hecker explained.

"And of course, once Eudora becomes an open source product, then anyone will be able to participate in its further development as a volunteer or otherwise, no matter who they work for."