Mozilla Messaging

As some may remember, Mozilla’s plan for Thunderbird was to form a new (then unnamed) company owned by the Foundation. Mozilla Messaging has now launched. I’m a fan of this approach as I think it allows for the most synergy between the projects, which are really more fraternal or conjoined twins than sister projects. It also allows for more dedicated resources and focus that Thunderbird wasn’t receiving before.

David Ascher has a great post on what’s to come. There are a few things I’d like to touch on though.

…Specifically, Thunderbird 3 will build on the great base that is Thunderbird 2 (and the work already performed in trunk by the current and past contributors), and add some key features, such as:

Presumably meaning it’s based on Mozilla 1.9, though I’m not 100% clear on this.

  • Integrated calendaring (building on the great work done by the Mozilla Calendar team and their Lightning add-on to Thunderbird),

Awesome. This is something that was missing from long ago. Though I wonder how far it will go without the server side being as available, robust and tested. Exchange compatibility would bring about the most corporate adoption, though that could be difficult to engineer. Google Calendar is supported via an addon. It’s still lacking in a few places, though rapidly improving. I believe it also works with Zimbra (can anyone confirm?), which is a good start.

  • better search facilities,

I’m curious what this entails. Search is always tricky. Google Desktop has proven a good solution for many who need better search with their email client.

  • easier configuration,

Cool. Enough said. I’ve had thoughts on that for a while.

  • and a set of other user interface improvements.

Hopefully this will result in some native skinning similar to what Firefox 3.0 is doing.

Address Book is also about 4 years overdue for an overhaul. Personally I think it should be replaced entirely and use a mozStorage backend. Perhaps even look at the possibility of some data sharing with services like Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn. Obviously being careful to avoid causing a Scoble by scraping data. For something like this data portability will be critical.

Personally I’d like to see some standard emerge where closed messaging services can essentially be interfaced like an IMAP account. So one could plug in their account info and interact with their account via any tool they choose. Obviously sending would be limited to within the provider’s walls. Contacts, data, etc. can be sync’d between both providing a seamless experience.

…Another strength is that we already have a complete web technology stack built into our mail client, and as a result, we can consider deep integration with both websites and web services which other solutions can only dream of.

Extensions are powerful. But this is really where the strength is. It’s a rather complete platform, and constantly expanding to keep up with the latest. It’s far from a hacked together parser that does a subset of html.

I suspect 3.0 will be somewhat of a quieter release. Change won’t come overnight. Those expecting a radical new approach to email by 3.0 will likely be disappointed. 4.0 is where things will become a more disruptive. I’d assume this will correspond with Mozilla2, which might work out to be an advantage.

As a final note, for any who don’t realize Scott MacGregor and David Bienvenu (no idea where his new blog will be) aren’t working for Mozilla Messaging but will still be involved with Thunderbird. They haven’t said too much on their plans yet.

That’s about all of my thoughts on the topic for now.

Thunderbird is dead, long live Thunderbird.
Email is dead, long live Email.

Thunderbird In Crisis? No

There’s some FUD going around that Thunderbird is in crisis (is Slashdot going to morph into a tabloid?). This is a bit over the top. Yes it’s true Scott and David announced they are leaving and moving on to something else. It’s a slightly different setup than was used for Firefox, but it’s just as promising. I’ve got confidence to say things will continue. There will be a transition period (just like there was when the Mozilla Foundation was formed). Different doesn’t mean something is dead. Remember the Netscape layoffs and the Death of Mozilla? Didn’t really harm the project. I’d say it helped. I won’t say anything more on the topic for the moment.

MoFo’s MailCo To Coincide With MoCo

Did you catch that title? Thunderbird has a new home, but it’s not moving far. I mentioned this a few weeks ago. The most interesting bit is this:

The new organization doesn’t have a name yet, so I’ll call it MailCo here. MailCo will be part of the Mozilla Foundation and will serve the public benefit mission of the Mozilla Foundation. (Technically, it will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, just like the Mozilla Corporation.)

Awesome! And other minor details…

Mozilla will provide an initial $3 million dollars in seed funding to launch MailCo…. Mozilla may well invest additional funds; we also hope that there are other paths for sustainability.

It’s great to see it’s going to be well taken care of. Keeping it in the family is also good for XULRunner and the Mozilla platform since it ensures everyone will continue to work as closely as they have in the past. Also insures that the new organization will keep the same principles at heart that made Firefox what it is today.

The Rumbling Edge has a good list of media coverage.

In other news, Yahoo acquired Zimbra for a cool $350 Million. This has been the biggest week for email since Gmail launched.

Mozilla Corporation

For the most part, the news has been rather clear, though a few questions still remain.

  1. Who owns the trademarks? The Foundation or the Corporation? This doesn’t say if the corporation will be allowed to use the trademarks, or will inherit them. It hints at inheriting, though Asa makes it sound otherwise.
  2. Who ultimately has the final say? Is the Foundation ultimately still in charge? Or does the Corporation get the upper hand?
  3. Who do drivers@mozilla.org and module owners answer to? Foundation or the corporation? Mitchell said a while back

    The key responsibility is that the Module Owner’s job is to act in the best interests of the community and the project at large, not in the interests of his or her employer. Ben has lived with these responsibilities as a volunteer, a Netscape employee, a Mozilla Foundation employee and now as a Google employee. We’re confident that Ben will continue to help us drive great innovations in the browsing world.

    Speaking of Ben’s departure to Google. Now is the Foundation ultimately going to continue to lead the community? Or will the Corporation step into play here? Is it possible for the Foundation and Corporation to disagree? How will that be mediated?

  4. Since the creation of the Foundation, long term goals have been a bit more open (as opposed to Netscape). Will the Corporation be modeling it’s confidential information policy against the Foundation, or that of Netscape?
  5. Who is the property owner (office space, servers, other worldly possessions)? Corporation or Foundation (or some sort of split)?
  6. Is there any obligation (either by policy, or charter or contract) for the Corporations code to be open source? Or could they (in theory, don’t start the conspiracy train on me) fork it into a “Netscape” scenario? Who has a say in this (again Foundation or Corporation)?
  7. There’s some talk on the net about concerns regarding Mozilla’s Search relationships (and potential relationships). Does the Foundation have any say in potential business relationships? Can it prohibit or block them?
  8. Will SpreadFirefox be under the Foundation or the Corporation?
  9. Will products be moving to mozilla.com rather than mozilla.org? Or will they stay the same?

The ultimate question here is how much control will the Foundation have over the Corporation. As a wholly owned subsidiary, the Foundation should have substantial say, though it’s not quite clear just yet how a Corporation status will effect policies, most of the discussion thus far has been on day to day operation or “the basics” (will Firefox still be free? etc.) Hopefully a MoFo or MoCo (oh boy do I like the abbreviations) representative will be clarifying things in days to come. I’ll update this post if they do (nudges Asa and Mitchell).