Back in September 2007 Mozilla decided to break their email client, called Thunderbird, away from the browser and create a separate subsidiary for it. Up until now the new subsidiary has been called MailCo, but today it officially received the name of Mozilla Messaging. I believe the new name of the subsidiary is a good indication that Thunderbird will evolve into more than just an email application.
David Ascher, the CEO of Mozilla Messaging, has shed some light on the direction that the new subsidiary will be going as they push forward. In Thunderbird 3 they hope to provide an integrated calendar based on the Lightning add-on, add better search capabilities, easier configuration, and enhance the user interface. So it looks like the project might still be alive after all, but what’s expected of Thunderbird 3 makes it sound like it should really be called Thunderbird 2.5.
From the sounds of it the future of Thunderbird will not revolve solely around email. They want to expand into instant messaging, SMS, and possibly even VoIP:
It is worthwhile considering what the right user experience could be for someone using multiple email addresses, multiple instant messaging systems, IRC, reading and writing on blogs, using VoIP, SMS, and the like. What parts of those interactions make sense to integrate, and where? I don’t believe that stuffing all of those communication models inside of one application is the right answer.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Mozilla Messaging as they move forward, and will definitely watch for improvements to Thunderbird.