Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thunderbird flies: Mozilla spins off e-mail client

Mozilla Corp. spun off its Thunderbird e-mail client into a new for-profit subsidiary on Monday and seeded the unnamed company with $3 million in start-up money, the open-source developer announced.

The move is identical to the one made by the umbrella Mozilla Foundation in 2005 when it created Mozilla Corp. to manage Firefox. "The new organization doesn't have a name yet, so I'll call it 'MailCo' here," said Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker on her blog tonight. "Technically, it will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, just like the Mozilla Corp."

MailCo is the result of internal talks and public discussion about the future of Thunderbird that began in July. Then, Baker, who also chairs the foundation, said that because Firefox was Mozilla Corp.'s first priority, it had to divest itself of Thunderbird. The options she outlined included the following: creating a new nonprofit organization similar to the Mozilla Foundation to focus on the e-mail program, building a new subsidiary of the foundation just for Thunderbird, and releasing Thunderbird into the wild as a community-only project.

Scott MacGregor and David Bienvenu, the two Mozilla employees who headed Thunderbird development efforts, voted for the third option. Today, however, Mozilla chose the second.

Most Thunderbird users criticized Baker and Mozilla Corp. for wanting to ditch the e-mail program, which competes with Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook and IBM's Lotus Notes, as well as with Web-based e-mail services such as Windows Live Mail, Yahoo Mail and Google Inc.'s Gmail.

The new company will focus on developing communications software based on the current Thunderbird product, its code base and its brand.

Source: www.computerworld.com

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