A new Mozilla Foundation effort to improve its Thunderbird open-source e-mail software now has an official name--and its first public goals.
Thunderbird 3.0 is due to ship by the end of the year with a more comprehensive search feature and official integration of the Lightning calendar add-on, said David Ascher, chief executive of the newly named Mozilla Messaging subsidiary. The first alpha release will come sooner, though, for those who want to test the software.
"I'm expecting we'll have some public releases probably within three months," Ascher said.
Mozilla is best known for its success with the Firefox browser, which has dented Microsoft Internet Explorer's dominance and sparked programmers to build a rich selection of extensions. Now the group is trying to apply the formula to e-mail software. Even though many rely on Web-based services for the chore, e-mail software is still widely used, and Thunderbird could open another major beachhead for open-source software in mainstream computing.
Although Mozilla Messaging's priority is to produce good software, not specifically to dethrone Microsoft's dominant Outlook software, the new calendar ability makes Thunderbird a more viable competitor, particularly in corporate environments.
Adding a third Mozilla group can be confusing, so let me spell out the distinctions for those of you who haven't scrutinized every development in the last 10 years since Netscape and its acquirer, AOL, spun off the Mozilla project in 1998. The Mozilla Foundation, a not-for-profit group, is in charge overall; for-profit subsidiaries Mozilla Corp. and Mozilla Messaging run the Web browser and e-mail projects, respectively.
Mozilla Messaging also has named a three-person board of directors: Ascher; Chris Beard, general manager of Mozilla Labs; and Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL, the open-source database company Sun Microsystems has just agreed to acquire for about $1 billion. More are likely to be added later as the organization grows, Ascher said.