Does Mozilla have the power to pull another Firefox with email? (Dec. 09, 2009) — In a lot of markets, open source has played catch-up for years to the proprietary incumbents. Currently, however, open source is taking the lead in areas as assorted as operating systems (Linux), browsers (Firefox), and databases (MySQL).

mozillaStrangely, given the ubiquity of e-mail, one has never seen an actually good open-source e-mail client. Mozilla wants to transform that with Thunderbird.

Mozilla’s track record with its enormously well-liked Firefox Web browser suggests that it may have more than a generous opportunity, regardless of a generally fruitless history with e-mail. Thunderbird, Mozilla’s e-mail client, has been around ever since 2003, with almost no market share to demonstrate for it’s virtually seven years of development.

It is possible that Thunderbird has been a prey of Firefox’s accomplishment. If so, has something been altered to propose that Thunderbird is ready to innovate and lead, similar too Firefox.

The response is a eligible but positive “yes.” Mozilla just released Thunderbird 3, and early reports suggest that it’s a keeper. CNET, for example, lauds Thunderbird’s search capabilities (“Microsoft Outlook doesn’t present anything that comes close to the level of grainy control that Mozilla has given Thunderbird users”), amongst other things, and declares that it “rates as a superior e-mail client, and it’s absolutely the best freeware one around.”

Mozilla CEO John Lilly insists that the groundwork is doing just that, focusing on both server and client modernization. According to Mozilla Messaging lead David Ascher, Mozilla will be investing greatly in add-on originality, similar to Firefox that keeps the platform responsive while inspiring Thunderbird’s functionality. Such add-ons will take advantage of advances in both the client and server.

It sounds hopeful and comes with an actual monetary obligation from Mozilla. The foundation now has 60 people working on messaging, compared with just two back in the early days.

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