back to article Thunderbird is go: Mozilla's email client lands in a new nest

Mozilla says it will move the Thunderbird email client to a new, wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, called MZLA Technologies Corporation, which would allow it to monetise the project. The company reckons the move will not impact the software's day-to-day activities or mission. "Thunderbird will still remain …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

    0.5% of what ? A billion emails ? Ten thousand emails ? Of the average amount of emails opened every day ?

    And how does Mozilla know if I'm opening an email without the telemetry to tell it ?

    That sub annoys me on more than one level.

    1. Adam Inistrator

      Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

      % share is more important than the absolute number. Of what importance is the absolute number to us in this news article?

      Up from .1 to .5 would be explosive growth so I doubt that.

      I donate monthly a small amount and am delighted to hear donations are doing so well.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        "% share is more important than the absolute number."

        The total of those quoted is less than 18%. That leads to the suspicion that the great majority are opened in browsers with lots of links followed up blindly. Hello malware.

    2. joeW Silver badge

      Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

      From the last paragraph, it seems that figure is coming not from Mozilla but some "Email Analytics" outfit called Litmus. Their results include the footnote "Some email clients may be over or under represented due to image blocking" - given the techie nature of Thunderbird's user base, I would guess that 0.5% is a severe under-representation.

      1. Smooth Newt
        Happy

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        I would guess that 0.5% is a severe under-representation.

        The litmus.com link in the article explains how it was done. "We analyzed more than 10 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “B”—email opens tracked with email analytics in the past year [..].".

        Analytics are links to images or other remote content embedded in HTML format emails, and by default Thunderbird refuses to follow the links to download them. Instead it pops up a little tagline across the message box saying "To protect your privacy,Thunderbird has blocked remote content in this message". So mostly, email analytics don't work on Thunderbird unless the user actively decides to let it happen.

        I don't remember seeing anything like that in emails on Outlook, Gmail or Apple clients (and although I am no expert in using them) so I assume their default is to just download the stuff from the remote web server, thus ringing a bell somewhere.

        So I agree that Thunderbird is probably substantially under-represented.

        1. joeW Silver badge

          Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

          Outlook default blocks it on senders from outside your organisation, Gmail's default seems to be to block all unless you allow.

          I'm guessing that while almost all email clients have such a feature, Thunderbird users are more likely to understand the implications of allowing images - and therefore choose not to.

          1. Chris Evans

            Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

            The question is what is the default setting of say the top 10 ways people access email?

            Also what are the top ten ways they found people are accessing emails?

            How far down the list is thunderbird?

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

          I admit that, by the time I got to the last paragraph I was in a bit of a rage on this telemetry thing and I kinda zapped it. So now I know that they have the telemetry on the images. That's rather smart, because there is no email client that can keep telemetry from happening if the images are not blocked.

          And yes, I use Thunderbird, as well as all my family, so I am well aware of the image blocking by default. What I did not know is that it also stops the telemetry. I always thought it was just to preserve bandwidth. Now I know better, and I'm even happier about Thunderbird.

          1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

            Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

            It's an age-old technique from before the days when "telemetry" was a gleam in a data-harvester's eye - It's been a thing since the 90s when HTML email became a thing. How it works is you embed an image tag in your HTML email pointing to e.g http://yourwebsite.com/tracker/tracker.gif?uniqueid=blablabla.

            tracker.gif is actually a script which logs your IP address, user agent, unique id, etc so they can tell you've viewed the email and what client you're using, and then spits out a gif image.

            The image that it spits out use might be a single pixel of transparency, so a user doesn't even see anything and has no idea that the sender has just tracked your activity and positively associated your IP address with a specific person (they also have a record associating the unique id with your email address / user account / name, depending on what info you've given them).

            Any email client that doesn't block remote images by default is not your friend.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

              "Any email client that doesn't block remote images by default is not your friend."

              Unless you're the sort of control-freak designer who thinks they should be able to control to the last detail what the recipient should see. I've even had the text of the email sent as an image - wrote back and pointed out that that wasn't friendly to those with poor eye-sight and depended on a screen reader and that, in turn, was contrary to their policies.

            2. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

              > It's an age-old technique from before the days when "telemetry" was a gleam in a data-harvester's eye

              AKA "the good old days".

              1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                Remember them? When loading a web page didn't involve downloading a megabyte of javascript? Aaaah.

                But OTOH, to be fair, 56K.

            3. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

              tracker.gif is actually a script which logs your IP address, user agent, unique id, etc so they can tell you've viewed the email and what client you're using, and then spits out a gif image.
              To be pedantic, tracker.gif isn't usually a script. The webserver software that is serving up the image tracker.gif usually logs all of that information itself in its access logs (or other logs, it's easily configurable in the webserver itself where to send what chunks of information), without needing for tracker.gif itself to be anything more than an actual GIF.

              1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                it depends on how you're doing it and exactly what you're doing. Most of the ones I've worked with are indeed a script. But yes, doing analytics on your access logs will also mostly get the job done.

          2. ivan5

            Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

            To get round the tracking I use a text only email client. That may seem rather old fashioned but it does save all the clutter that I see others have.

            If someone sends me an email that isn't in text form it doesn't get any response from me - cuts down on the spam junk as well.

            1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

              Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

              yeah, text-only is the best way to do it.

              1. Wibble

                Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                Yes. Text only is the best way to go. Really.

                Means you don't get all that visual crap and tracking. Or disgusting layout.

                If you can't say it in text, it's probably of no interest anyway.

                1. alain williams Silver badge

                  Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                  mutt

                  1. tin 2

                    Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                    pine. surely?

                    1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                      Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

                      Lightweights. Just use vim on your Maildir :P

            2. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Thanks for the clarification, Smooth Newt

              Just turn off image downloading, (which is already off by default in Thunderbird, and Outlook, and probably some other clients too). That way you can still view an image if you decide to.

        3. Tim99 Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

          Apple clients allow you to choose to prevent loading remote (image) files. I would hope that most users would turn loading off, but these days many punters are used to webmail which usually includes all of the pretty pictures.

        4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

          > I don't remember seeing anything like that in emails on Outlook

          You have to turn it on.

          I only view plain text in Outlook unless I need the HTML formatting which unfortunately is fairly often :(

          I use thunderbird at home after I got tired managing all of it on my phone.

          At work I'm forced to use Outlook.

          I also like using Mutt.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

            "I also like using Mutt."

            I used to use Elm.

            1. O RLY

              Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

              I miss pine. No need to worry about malicious attachments running on the IRIX or Solaris boxes I used to use, nor tracking pixels loading.

              1. tin 2

                Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

                ahh the memories!! pine on Irix and Solaris here too :)

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

                We still have a few (older) users who are still happily/masochistically (delete as applicable, give me Thunderbird any day, personally) using (al)pine, which, miraculously, just about still works with our (sadly, privatised, and therefore un-private) Orifice 364 mail "service". If only the same could actually be said for the proprietary/non-standard calendar non-functionality which fails to work in either client, with the result that a certain, and not insignificant, segment of the user base just don't use the calendar at all (probably to the irritation of certain PHB and/or suit-wearing types).

                1. O RLY

                  Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

                  After I made my comment, I checked to see if anyone was still updating pine and saw the alpine project. I haven't installed it, but it's nice to hear that it is working at least with the email functions of O365.

                  Thanks for the data point.

        5. Libertarian Voice

          Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

          We use Thunderbird and have a considerable number of HTML documents with embedded images, we just attach them and inline them, it's no big deal and ensures correct formatting even if something is changed upstream.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        Image blocking? No surprise Outlook is so well represented then, in my workplace it only recently started blocking images by default like TB always has (not sure if it was policy). And anyway wouldn't a better source of statistic be stats gathered by mail relays each client has it's custom headers and so on, no need for involving HTTP.

        Annoyingly I had to go back to outlook as our O365 authentication is now handled through a separate provider and raw IMAP no longer works. (I'm open to suggestions).

        Otherwise been using TB since v2, there was a bit of a wobble when the new release schedule started but the last couple of years if not more it's been solid, I hope it sticks around.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        > given the techie nature of Thunderbird's user base, I would guess that 0.5% is a severe under-representation.

        This would be my guess as well. I've been using TB for a very, very long time -- but I never allow HTML to be rendered, JS to be executed, or external images to be resolved, so there's no way that my usage was counted.

      4. P.B. Lecavalier

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        I think the number is correct, in that nowadays the vast majority of opened emails are consumed like newsletters or a friend's message "see ya in a bit" to which there is nothing to reply to, and that often is on some mobile platform.

        A more meaningful indicator: Share of emails that were opened, replied to, and with a reply that has at least a few sentences. This way, you rule out pretty much all of mobile (emails that just don't get a reply).

      5. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

        Their results include the footnote "Some email clients may be over or under represented due to image blocking"

        Yeah, then absolutely they won't be registering my installs of it.

    3. FIA

      Re: "Around 0.5% of emails opened in the 'bird today, apparently"

      And how does Mozilla know if I'm opening an email without the telemetry to tell it ?

      They ask Huawei.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    flexibility and agility, but will also allow us to explore offering our users products and services

    I read smooth piece of bullshit, particularly the central turd of "flexibility" mixed with "explore offering", and translate: we'll sell you and / or your data, we just need to figure out how. Which would be fair, cause you know, FREE!!!! comes at a price, I only wish they could say it plainly.

    1. Adam Inistrator

      Re: flexibility and agility

      Thunderbird have never done that. Maybe in the distant future, but we can easily move off it, so they wont ... or we will. What is your problem BTW?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: flexibility and agility

        "but we can easily move off it"

        Or fork it.

        Nevertheless management-speak like that does tend to suggest the worst.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: flexibility and agility

        like I said above, my problem is with bullshit, weasel phrases, which usually do not bide well for users.

      3. steelpillow Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: flexibility and agility

        My problem with this is the commercial attraction of adding modern essentials as closed-source plug-ins, freely downloadable and pretty much irresistible if you want a contemporary message client - but monetised by data-slurping. I am sure that Mozilla currently have no intention of stooping so low, but I am also at least as sure I have seen such equally irresistible business models before somewhere....

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: flexibility and agility

      I recently switched to MailMate on MacOS and FairMail on Android and pay for both: power users will generally be prepared to pay for a good e-mail client. After all, business users happily pay for a shitty e-mail client (Outlook)…

      Non-power users don't seem to care because they mainly use messaging, where they'll need to reinvent the wheel.

  3. m4r35n357

    Seamonkey

    Netscape Navigator never went away: https://www.seamonkey-project.org/

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Seamonkey

      Love the Composer web editor for its incredibly useful (to me if not to you) tags-on view, the only one left AFAIK. Shame it hasn't really been developed since dinosaurs learned to fly.

  4. Noonoot

    What happens to our data?

    Who is sponsoring them? That's the question to ask

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who provides the other 80 % ?

    "well behind Outlook's 9.2 per cent or Apple Mail's 7.8 per cent. "

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Who provides the other 80 % ?

      Web based mail and mobile access, I presume.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Who provides the other 80 % ?

      I assumed that to be mostly web mail/Google etc.

      1. Dave559

        Re: Who provides the other 80 % ?

        It is quite a terrifying thought that probably the majority of people use webmail to read and (mis)manage their email nowadays, although it is sort of ironic that there are some heavyweight (and network-demanding) webmail clients that can actually emulate the classic accounts/folders/headers/message view of a good email program reasonably well - but that's gotta be vast chunks of code shuttling back and forth over the network with every web request to enable that; probably, even with the bloat of HTML emails (and retard-quoting) aside, vastly more bandwidth than the actual messages themselves(!).

    3. wjake
      Meh

      Re: Who provides the other 80 % ?

      Webmail. And the odd Eudora and other legacy e-mail clients I haven't been happy with any email client in years, so I use my ISP's webmail. It's terrible as well!

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    The comparison

    The comparison ratio isn't (setting aside telemetry etc. issues)

    0.5% of 100% .

    It is 0.5 compared to the other clients, such as the 9 percentage points of Outlook.

    Which makes TB look a lot more respectable. Around 1/5th of the use that Behemoth Microsoft's Outlook gets.

    1. Wibble

      Re: The comparison

      Maffs: 0.5 compared to 9 is about 18 times smaller

  7. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I've stopped using it

    The trouble is that for home use, most people are just happy to use webmail. For businesses, there's just so much pressure to use what everyone else uses on the desktop - namely Outlook. From a user's point of view, Outlook has a calendar, and it syncs with Microsoft services. Outlook email setup is trivial (when using Exchange), and again, from a user's point of view, there is no differentiation between the email service and the email client. Yes, it's possible to do calendar and contacts syncing in TB but it's relatively complex to set up. And if you're using Exchange, you basically have to use Outlook.

    So unless you're saving money and sticking with a low-storage IMAP service, or don't mind a 15 year old design, you'll go for Outlook every time. Having said that, about 1% of our end-users that we support still use TB. And just one of our end-users has every expressed the wish to stick with TB after they move to Office 365.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I've stopped using it

      I'll take Thunderbird's 15-year old design over Outlook's current one any day of the week (message search is a bit clunky though).

      And just one of our end-users has every expressed the wish to stick with TB after they move to Office 365.

      I didn't ask, I just connected via IMAP and it worked.

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        "(message search is a bit clunky though)."

        Yup - still miss the excellent search facility of Eudora. But Eudora doesn't necessarily work on modern systems and I think it has some security problems. So currently using TB. Perhaps I should look at The Bat software again.

        Any other suggestions for good e-mail software (I'm happy to pay for it)?

        1. Fonant

          Re: I've stopped using it

          Hold out for Vivaldi's M3, coming "soon" and a re-written and improved version of Opera's most-excellent M2.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: I've stopped using it

            I'll believe it when I see it. When was the last announcement on this?

        2. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: I've stopped using it

          +1 for the Eudora reference. Long ago, it was a go to for a while, Notlook, part of the old office suite was a dog, and we had Exchange, Eudora to the rescue, especially on older less powerful boxes. Dare I mention local .pst files? Arrrrrgh...

          1. Dave559

            Re: .pst files

            I had always assumed that .pst files were so-called because it was Outhouse's special way of showing you that it had pist all over your email, leaving it soggy and unusable?

            Why should an email "client" that is just supposed to be keeping your email on the server get tangled up with that sort of mess?

            I mean, it almost makes Mozilla's mork file format seem like a good idea (which is why I used to run a local IMAP server on my Linux box and always read the mail from there instead (which also allowed experimenting with different email clients, back when there was still a bit of evolutionary competition (waves to Evolution and Sylpheed-Claws)), and nowadays I just leave the mail on the ISP server so that I can read it from anywhere).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I've stopped using it

          Pegasus Mail (www.pmail.com). Shiny happy "web 2.0" lovers need not apply, but if you want to be able to configure all aspects of sending/receiving email, it's perfect. It has been around for quite a while, I've been using it myself for 20 years now.

      2. myhandler

        Re: I've stopped using it

        TB stores your email text so that a stemming algorithm can search it looking for word roots.

        If you search for 'Weds' hoping to find Wednesday abbreviations it will also show 'wedding'.

        If TB simply added a verbatim option it would make it much more usable. The filtering on search results is also very clunky. I have 10 years of emails and it's a pain to find anything without 20 clicks. Other than that TB is very good.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        "I'll take Thunderbird's 15-year old design over Outlook's current one any day of the week"

        I'll take Seamonkey's even older design over TBird's.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: I've stopped using it

          > I'll take Seamonkey's even older design over TBird's.

          Give me a choice between Outlook and Mutt and guess which one I will chose.

          Hint, "I'm a mog. half man, half dog".

      4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        I really cant stand Outlook. The thing is too ugly and usability sometimes vanishes, the re-appears and then vanishes again.

    2. tekHedd
      Pint

      Re: I've stopped using it

      Everyone in our organization uses Thunderbird; this is not a requirement, it just works and we all like it.

      Does anybody really *prefer* Outlook other than from familiarity (because it's required at work anyway)? Does *anybody* prefer managing Exchange servers? Would anybody who is not a Microsoft marketing shill write the Register comment to which I am responding?

      Note: These are rhetorical questions. Beer because it's Friday Jr, right?

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        > other than from familiarity

        Over the years I have worked in IT the only familiar thing about Outlook today is the name.

        1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

          Re: I've stopped using it

          "Over the years I have worked in IT the only familiar thing about Outlook today is the name."

          I agree, I didn't say I *liked* outlook. It's just that no matter how much it changes, people feel at home with it. THe support burden is less because people just ask their colleagues if there's a problem.

          We have a customer who had an old windows server 2003 server and exchange on it, and they used Outlook 2007. The server was getting old, the email clients didn't work properly, and we gave them a choice of getting a more modern windows server plus another server for exchange - this was in 2014 - OR getting a linux server and using Thunderbird. The company had less than 25 users total.

          It was a resounding flop. They hated it. "Why can't I do out of office?", "it looks different", "it doesn't sync my calendar" etc. So we installed a nicer looking email program called eMclient. They hated this too. It would try and download all the emails even when told not to. The search was no good. It wasn't... Outlook. So they lived with this for 3 years and we switched them over to office 365 and outlook.. They were delighted, even though with their 1Mbps broadband, things were VERY slow. They loved it, even though Outlook, by this time, looked completely different from the older version they'd been used to.

          For some reason, when people get used to stuff, it's very difficult to tear them away. Like with LibreOffice vs Office 365 licences. Even though it costs nearly £10 per month per user, companies would rather pay that, than use the free LibreOffice, which in all probability does everything they need.

          So we have just a few Thunderbird users we support and most of them hate it. Ridiculous I know.

          1. ExampleOne

            Re: I've stopped using it

            Even though it costs nearly £10 per month per user, companies would rather pay that, than use the free LibreOffice, which in all probability does everything they need.

            Except for most companies that is an insignificant cost compared with the basic cost of employees salary. At £10 a month, that is 50p a day. Even low paid staff are likely to cost £50 a day, so if O365 makes them 1% more productive simply through giving them what they want, it is a good deal.

            This is why subscription software makes so much sense for small and medium businesses: it is an easy to model cost that typically is negligible compared with salaries.

            1. nijam

              Re: I've stopped using it

              > ... if O365 makes them 1% more productive

              That's quite a big "if" though.

          2. tygrus.au

            Re: I've stopped using it

            Mercury Mail server with Pegasus Mail client blocks the usual web code execution and many other good features but also has a few limitations. The good and the bad as you found with others. Microsoft make it hard for others to use their API's which also heavily change over time (calendar sync, contacts & lists). Free options are nice but they need $$/time from somewhere to add features and keep it up-to-date. As time goes by, the bar for entry is raised higher and higher. Big corp/gov need to invest in open source to meet their needs. Hopefully it will also meet our needs and they make it available to the rest of us. Shareware and asking for donations really struggle getting money from users. A lot of the $$ to Microsoft go to lawyers and marketing.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        Nor Outlook is only a mail client, nor Exchange is only a mail server.

        While most user may not use any of the advanced functions, in larger organization they do. For example in Outlook you can delegate access (with ACLs) to a mailbox to other users (whose access happens with their account, and logged as such, not yours) - which may not look useful until you are someone in a position to have assistants who may filter your mail and answer on your behalf when needed.

        Plus all the AD integration features - if you use AD, of course.

        You may hate MS - but they had some good ideas about how to bring office applications a bit further from the needs a few university programmers in the 1970s...

      3. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        Managing Office 365 is the same as or easier than managing any IMAP server.

        Managing Outlook endpoints (not just PCs, but phones) is definitely easier than managing IMAP endpoints.

        Managing end users that use outlook is easier than managing thunderbird users (mostly).

        Making a profit out of end users that use Office 365 is easier than making a profit out of end users that use IMAP services

        From my point of view, it's a done deal. If the users need only small mailboxes, and there aren't too many users, I'll set up IMAP. But apart from that, I'm sad to say that hosted exchange wins out every time. There's a reason so many people use it. I used to steer well clear, but as it got more reliable, and customers got more savvy, and we gained more customers, I find that we can offer a better service and make more money this way. Sorry.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: I've stopped using it

          > Managing Office 365 is the same as or easier than managing any IMAP server

          A 14 year old can manage an IMAP server. I know, I did it.

          > Managing Outlook endpoints (not just PCs, but phones) is definitely easier than managing IMAP endpoints.

          No. Only in an admins dreams.

          > Managing end users that use outlook is easier than managing thunderbird users (mostly).

          I manage O365 every day.

          Its a nightmare of:

          - sync issues

          - "password required" but no password box is being displayed

          - Apple iPhones getting emails before the laptop resulting in VIP users getting really pissed off and asking IT why that is

          - users calling up saying they cant send as this mailbox or view that mailbox only for IT to find that they are configured correctly in the cloud but their outlook is buggered and must be reinstalled

          - Outlook failing to install the latest updates with a useless message saying why

          - The office 365 installer that downloads the installation from the net will get to 75% then fail saying you should try again later. IT bod (me) then downloads the offline installer which is comprosed of an xml file and an executable I HAD TO WRITE IN C# myself just to install it.

          Sure, office is easier...

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I've stopped using it

      > And if you're using Exchange, you basically have to use Outlook.

      We are forced to use Exchange at my workplace, but I use TB to interact with it (including for calendaring). It works very well for me, and lets me avoid having to using Outlook.

      1. gobaskof

        Re: I've stopped using it

        How do you use TB when forced on Exchange? Do you use DavMail or ExQuilla? I have not tried ExQuilla (it doesn't support calendar I think), and I have found that DavMail auto accepts calendar requests which is really annoying as everyone at work uses calendar requests.

        I am stuck in webmail hell as my work machine is Linux, would like a way out.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I've stopped using it

          I use a combination of two plugins: Exchange Calendar and Lightning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Thunderbird and Lightning (and Exchange)

            Curious about how folk using Thunderbird and Lightning with Exchange mailservers are getting on these days?

            Thunderbird and Lightning and the old Exchange provider (whichever one was current and working a couple of years ago) worked fine for me for ages, but then either some update in O365 (most likely), or the other side of things borked the setup. I did try to experiment a bit further with what was then the newer (Ericsson?) Exchange provider, but had no luck, and so gradually switched over to using the webmail for referring to my calendar, which is a faff. Luckily I don't go to very many meetings, but having to duplicate them in Thunderbird to remind me is a pain.

    4. billdehaan

      Re: I've stopped using it

      I've been de-Googling myself over the past year or so, and I replaced my Gmail with a more privacy focused provider (in my case, Mailbox.org, though there are numerous others). However, even when I was using Gmail and Google calendar, I ran Thunderbird and Lightning to maintain local copies of my mail and calendar data,dating back to about 2004. Prior to that, I was using The Bat!, which while recommended, was locked out by some local ISPs, which made it no longer viable, sadly.

      For home users, TB remains a great archival tool, assuming you have POP3 access and not just IMAP. Whether or not you want to use TB for your mail is another story. For non-technical users, web mail is probably a better option nowadays, simply because someone else is doing all of the configuration for them.

      TB still has some annoyances, including their creation window fonts being nothing at all like what's sent, and the UI is absolutely outdated. But the archival abilities, along with the search capabilities, still make it a tremendously useful tool.

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: I've stopped using it

        > and the UI is absolutely outdated

        I always wonder how people manage to decide a UI is outdated (besides from its ability to display many colours).

        I find recent UI's unnecessarily full of white space while lacking user feedback elements that have been standard for years, for good reason.

        I also fail to see house decorations as outdated (apart from the glaringly obvious). Maybe its just me.

        My preferred window manager is Window Maker and I love the Motif widgets oooh yearh...

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: I've stopped using it

          > how people manage to decide a UI is outdated

          It lacks a hamburger menu...

  8. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    I'd buy that for a dollar! It's the best email client available (if you're not Microsoftened) and I'm glad it's soon to be back in active development. Maybe they'll make it smaller.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    tracking

    As well as issues mentioned about images disabled, a lot of people will make use of TBs fetch headers only functionality.

    So only mail headers grabbed, you then choose to get the content (or not)

    It's obviously slower, as have to click mails you want to read, but has advantage of letting you assess emails that have got through your mail virus / spam checker for full cautious mode

  10. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist
    Mushroom

    Oh God No

    They've talked about doing work on thunderbird a bunch of times. I for one hope it doesn't happen.

    After all, we all know the old saying that they have at mozilla: "If it ain't broke, redesign the UI with a terrible "modern" look and hamburger button while removing most of the customisability, and rip out some of the most important core features of the software, replacing it with something less powerful and incompatible, ignoring the cries of our users".

    I guess on the positive side when they inevitably do turn thunderbird into dogshit, a fork will come along that does it better - the email client equivalent of waterfox. And maybe then we'll actually see some sensible development and an email client that's actually better than what we have at the moment.

    1. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Oh God No

      Agree completely. It's an email client. It works. no need to add anything. Leave it alone.

      1. PerlyKing Silver badge

        Re: It works

        It mostly works. Searching seems to be a bit hit and miss

        A few days ago I wanted to find an email from the previous week. I knew the date and approximate time, and that it was still in my inbox. Except that it wasn't, not in Thunderbird. No problem, use the search and there it is! Except that when I tried to open the email from the results tab, there was nothing but emptiness. And of course it doesn't tell you anything useful like which folder it's in. Eventually I found the email through my phone (using K9), in the inbox where I'd thought it was in the first place!

        And then there's the random order in which search results are presented by default....

        1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

          Re: It works

          it doesn't tell you anything useful like which folder it's in

          There's a little icon that looks like a window with a downwards pointing arrow in the header of the search results at the right hand side. If you click on that you'll get a list of available columns. One of them is 'Location'. HTH.

          But, yes, searching could be improved. But you just know that won't happen until after they add new emojis and a new theme that makes it incompatible with the existing themes - they'll totally work on the important stuff first ;)

      2. ChrisElvidge

        Re: Oh God No

        Totally +100. I'm still using 52.2, anything later stops Thunderbrowse and Element Hiding from working. It's amazing what you can get rid of with Element Hiding Helper.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Oh God No

      They'll need to drop Gecko and much of the UI code if they don't want to take over maintenance of abandoned code and Gecko's important for handling of those awful HTML e-mails that people will insist on sending. It was this maintenance overhead that persuaded Mozilla to abandon Thunderbird.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Oh God No

        > Gecko's important for handling of those awful HTML e-mails that people will insist on sending.

        Personally, when I get an HTML email from someone who I shouldn't ignore, I just read the raw HTML. It hasn't failed me yet.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Oh God No

          I normally ignore the part entirely and moan to anyone who doesn't sent a proper plaintext part. But, for the purposes of the discussion, Thunderbird offers users the chance to read the HTML and this is a potential attack vector since the code is no longer being actively maintained by Mozilla. I don't follow forks like SeaMonkey so I don't know if the parser is being actively maintained.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Oh God No

            > this is a potential attack vector since the code is no longer being actively maintained by Mozilla.

            TB uses Firefox's engine for HTML, so it's certainly being actively maintained.

            That aside, it's true that HTML is a potential attack vector anyway, which is why I don't allow HTML to be rendered. When I said I look at the raw HTML, what I meant was that I actually read the HTML source, not that I allow it to be interpreted.

      2. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

        Re: Oh God No

        Yeah that's what I said: they're going to turn it into dogshit.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      "a fork will come along that does it better"

      So why it wasn't forked already? Forks don't happen magically, and the more complex the application is - and doing a mail client well and securely *is complex* - the more skilled developers you need, and mail clients aren't exactly an area attracting many working for free, today.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "a fork will come along that does it better"

        I'm not planning a fork, but...

        I'm sitting still on TB 52.9.1 because more recent releases broke things of value to me. Should using the older version become unsustainable, my backup plan is to write my own email client. Email clients aren't terribly tricky to implement if you don't care about things like HTML, image rendering, and etc. -- which I don't.

      2. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

        Re: "a fork will come along that does it better"

        So why it wasn't forked already?

        Because forks don't happen magically, and right now there's an email client which is perfectly adequate to the task and hasn't (yet) been turned into dogshit per Mozilla's MO.

  11. WilliamBurke
    Thumb Down

    Hands off!

    I don't want flexibility and agility (i.e. a different UI every three months), and I certainly don't want to be offered "products and services" when reading my email. I have been running Thunderbird on Linux and Windows and wouldn't know what to do without it. Works fine with my employer's Office365 server (whose abysmal UI I occasionally have to touch when somebody sends one of those Calendar invites without mentioning in plain text where and when).

    As for focusing on the browser: I don't see the fuss. I generally use Firefox, but don't see any noticeable difference when occasionally using Chrome or Edge. As long as there is a way to switch off autoplay and block ads, they are all the same.

  12. Timbo

    Other email clients?

    So, from the article:

    Mozilla email client accounted for just 0.5 per cent of all email opened across all devices in Q1 2019...Outlook's 9.2 per cent...Apple Mail's 7.8 per cent.

    That's 17.5% - what other email clients are there to make up the other 82.5%

    SeaMonkey?

    Outlook Express? (I thought that was well past it's sell by date? ;-)

    GMail? But it's surely not an "email client" - more like a website viewed from a browser (on desktop PCs) (unless one is now counting mobile apps).

    1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

      Re: Other email clients?

      Gmail on mobile does indeed account for the majority of all opens these days. Hotmail and outlook.com are still fairly significant, too, and a significant share of their users are on mobile too. After those guys, you'll see lots of local ISPs and a bunch of big employers (people signing up for your whatever from their work email) in your stats. ~17% sounds about right to me.

      And, yeah, IMHO these do count as an "email client" - people are using them to view and manage email. It's just that it's a web app rather than a native one.

      But as others have noted these numbers are essentially worthless where thunderbird is concerned because it blocks remote images by default. It's not even counted as an open, let alone an open from thunderbird.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Other email clients?

        Gmail on mobile does indeed account for the majority of all opens these days.

        Even in Apple iDevices?

        1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

          Re: Other email clients?

          I'd have to take a look at our metrics to be sure, and I can't be bothered with that (it's a PITA, I'm not touching that database for free), but IIRC:

          * The majority of iThing users run apple mail. However on mobile there's a significant number who use the gmail app. Which is a nightmare because of the ridiculous rules about "no HTML rendering engines except ours" that are decreed from on high in the lovely walled iGarden. So the gmail app renders stuff differently on iThing and Android. Which makes building and debugging responsive email just oh so much fun.

          * Many of those who are using apple mail use it to access gmail accounts. I think probably the majority but this is very much an "IIRC" and gut-feel-from-experience type of thing. I might be wrong, I wasn't looking for that figure last time I looked at the numbers (I only cared about the client/OS). There's also some apple account thing which gives them an email address which is pretty common among ios users, but for the life of me I can't remember what it it's called. iCloud or iLife or iMail or iGotRippedOff or something like that. I'd look it up, but I don't care ;)

          * Android outnumbers iOS fairly significantly. Overall, the single biggest segment of all opens are gmail for either web or Android. IIRC the app beats out web pretty significantly.

          So to answer your question... yes? kind of?

  13. adam payne Silver badge

    Thunderbirds are go or rather Thunderbird is going again.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Coat

      ...and we'll have fun, fun, fun until Mozilla takes the t'bird away.

  14. myhandler

    FYI: FairEmail app for Android is good as a mobile client if you want to avoid the great beast Goog-it-up.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    There's one area of UI that really needs work.

    Hands up all those with users (of any client) storing their read mail in Trash/Deleted.

    Hands up those with users - or themselves - storing read mail in the Inbox thumbs up icon is the nearest for myself).

    Inbox should be for incoming, unread mail only. Trash is for stuff that's going to be deleted (end of day, over a certain age, over a certain byte limit - whatever). If you want to keep something about while you mull over it a Pending tray would be appropriate. For everything else we need a filing system that's a good deal better than the existing archive/filter system.

    For instance instead of just using threading for display of linked emails in the same folder, make a folder for them.

    - Automatically link sent and received emails that belong together instead of leaving sent in their own folder where they don't even get threaded with received emails for display.

    - Automatically put mails to/from particular individuals, domains or addresses grouped in the address book into appropriate folders.

    - Do that when the user moves onto a new mail in the Inbox if they didn't delete or pend the old one and do it with sent emails.

    The papered office has known about manual filing for decades if not centuries; the paperless office (sic) should be able to automate it. Done well it might even be able to organise me.

    The next step might be to extend that filing system for emails into a fully-fledged document management system covering emails and other documents.* If not done within the email client provide hooks for an external manager.

    Yes, it might come as a shock so, as with any UI change, make it optional, at least for a long time, and don't default to it in the first releases.

    * Remember that at least some of the documents relating to a topic will arrive as attachments, others won't but they need to be managed together.

    1. RichUK

      A lot of this stuff is really easy in TB using rules, which are simple and intuitive to set up (the only unintuitive thing is that these rules are called "filters" which is stupid because (a) they aren't filters, they are ruled-based action and (b) there's already something called auto-filter, which actually *is* a filter).

      Try hovering over (say) the "from" address on an email, right-click and select "create filter from..."

      Rules (filters!) are really good in TB.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      inbox zero sucks

      I'm not much for sorting emails. Filing by sender/recipient is an issue if more than one person is in the email chain (even worse as people get added to or drop off the chain). Filing by project or customer kind of works, except for emails that touch on multiple areas ("hey boss, should $project1 take priority this week or should I work on $project2?"). Emptying your inbox is a waste of time, sure it makes OCD types feel like they did some 'work', but my email client shows me what's read/unread just fine, thank you.

      Archive by date (folders for each year, maybe quarter) so mailbox size isn't an issue. When moving out of inbox, cull the easy stuff like old status messages or huge emails (or use TB to delete the attachments if saving the message but not the attachment is important).

      Been using this system for 20 years. I have some gaps from back when I trusted IMAP on wobbly servers, but other than that, I still have a (sometimes useful) archive.

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: inbox zero sucks

        A tidy desk is a sign of a sick mind

        A tidy inbox doubly so.

        I gave up filing away email many years ago. TB lets me quickly find what I want. Filing things into different folders is just a poor way to index things. TB does good searches over the whole set of folders, but I find the quick search in the current folder suffices over 95% of the time.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      The one thing I still miss from when I used Outlook is the message filter rules. They can be really sophisticated.

      TB's are pretty basic.

      But *both* now contain a calendar and can be shared across my phone/PC/Laptop/Tablet.

      Which means those are my choices.

  16. Panicnow

    Wish List

    Default encryption system, e.g. implementing auto passwords for every message recipient set

    Putting some IMAP management tools into the browser could make it compete with Whats-app Facebook etc. E.g. Setting up individual IMAP services for "Groups".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cooperate with LibreOffice

    Why don't they donate it to the The Document Foundation who can integrate it in LibreOffice ?

    it's one of the big missing pieces of that office suite and would make many users of booth software happy ...

    1. Avalanche

      Re: Cooperate with LibreOffice

      OpenOffice/StarOffice used to have a mail client back when it was just open-sourced. It is good that thing was killed.

  18. Daedalus Silver badge

    Works for me

    Using IMAP I can access e-mail services provided by my ISP (yes, I know that can be a problem in itself) and I don't find myself using some big deal mail client that the artsies, marketeers and sales droids just can't bear to keep their grubby little paws off.

    The scary word in the article is "monetization".

  19. P.B. Lecavalier
    Devil

    "focus"

    with a fresh agreement that would ensure the company could keep its "focus" on its browser business

    Hehe, I see what you did El Reg with "focus". If only Mozilla, with it's 1000+ employees, would actually focus on its browser!

  20. Number6

    I use TB because it is cross-platform so I can run the same thing regardless of OS. I mostly run Linux machines so any MS-only solution is out. I did try Evolution on Linux for a while, and have played with KMail too, but ended up back with Thunderbird. Mind you, I also run my own IMAP server for home email, so I do have control over both ends of the service.

  21. Not previously required
    Unhappy

    Polite request

    Please, please PLEASE Mozilla

    Don't bugger Thunderbird up.

    It's multiplatform, handles multiple accounts and just works. Works for three generations of my family too with little support required from yours truly, the de facto IT support.

    And its got nothing to do with Microsoft, Google or Apple.

    And it has a useful system of extensions.

    I hate using Outlook. Have to in the day job. It works, but it's not a patch on Thunderbird.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Polite request

      For my use case, they've already buggered TB up.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020