Mozilla today officially released Thunderbird 3.0, it’s next generation email client. It’s got lots of interesting features, but is it too little too late?
Thunderbird 3.0 is the first major release of Thunderbird in years and that’s a very bad thing in my view. Unlike its cousin Firefox which has had regular releases and enjoys a large user-base and following, Thunderbird (to date) hasn’t generated the same type of attraction.
Back in 2007, Mozilla tried to kick start Thunderbird development by spinning out a new organization called Mozilla Messaging which was tasked with building Thunderbird. What have they done in the last two years?
Thunderbird 2.0 came out in April of 2007, at the time I had thought that we might see Thunderbird releases come out in roughly the same timelines as Firefox releases — I was wrong.
Having a new release every two years works for enterprise tech, open source or otherwise. But in my honest opinion that’s not how you grow an open source community or build an engaging application that innovates. Frequent iterations, rapid updates and continuous evolution are what make open source projects great. Look at the Linux kernel with new releases nearly every four months that have a staggering amount of innovation in them.
The path from the first Thunderbird 3 Beta to the final release is also somewhat disappointing.