Mozilla announced on July 6th they will longer be doing new development (feature) with Thunderbird, instead they will just continue to provide security and stability updates. To be honest, I really don’t know of anything else I would want Thunderbird to be able to do than what it can right now. After all, it is marketed as an email client. The only exception would be an integrated calendar but the Lightning or (better) EarlyLight add-ons take care of that.
I have never really care to use Thunderbird for RSS feeds or even as a news reader (not that my ISP offers access to newgroups anymore). I certainly had no desire to use Thunderbird as an instant message client either. Then there was the ‘attach from the cloud’ feature which looked and sounded good on paper, but the user backlash (especially from corporate users) caused Mozilla to rethink this feature. The feature allowed users to upload their attachment(s) via Dropbox and provide a link in the email, thus bypassing their (and the recipients’) ISP/email providers attachment size limitations. However, corporate users viewed this feature as a security risk as propitiatory documents could ‘accidentally’ be uploaded to the cloud. Mozilla came up with a compromise by making this an add-on instead. They handled this better than the tabs on top mess with Thunderbird 11.
Does this mean future development of Thunderbird is dead? May be, may be not. Thunderbird, like Firefox and SeaMonkey is an open source application. This means anyone can work on and make improvements to the applications. As Percy with Mozilla Links has pointed out SeaMonkey, the former Mozilla Internet Suite which was abandoned by Mozilla was taken over and given new life by the Open Source community.
There really is not much more you can or need to do with Thunderbird. Mozilla made great improvements with the account setup wizard which makes setting up a pre-existing email account a breeze. The recent addition in Thunderbird 13 to register for a new email address just seems odd to me. I’ve always been under the assumption that if you are going to be using an email client it was because you already had an email address.
Anyway, I think this is a good move on Mozilla’s part as it seems lately they’ve been trying to add features such as instant messaging, that just don’t make sense for an email client.This gives Mozilla more of an opportunity to focus on Firefox as the web browser continues to evolve. Not something that can really be said about email clients as the trend seems to be more towards webmail these days.