Wither the desktop client (Mozilla Thunderbird put on autopilot)


Mozilla announced that their messaging software Thunderbird will essentially be put on autopilot, shifting resources to other projects. Lots of sites weighing in (and people too) with commentary and even internal memos about the news.

This is bittersweet news for me as a user of Thunderbird for years when I was a Windows user.  It was far better than any other software at handling multiple pop3 email addresses at the same time.  I can remember a time when I setup my websites and going through the process of configuring email addresses online in a hosting control panel, followed by authenticating each email in Thunderbird.  For me, this was an important learning step in understanding POP3 and IMAP and the implications of each.  I thought I had it made when IMAP became supported and I was able to truly see messages across multiple Windows boxes all updates together in real time.

The writing was on the wall of course, as managing multiple email addresses across multiple computers could be made exponentially easier by having them all controlled via browser.  It was around this time that I discovered Google Apps For Your Domain (that was the orignal name!) and switched everything over.  Painful, but very worth it.

Now of course web based email is the norm (sorry Exchange users its true!) and everyone expects services to be available via browser.  Thus, the withering of desktop clients continue.  This is a bit unfair as there are a bunch of applications I still use on my desktop – but for the most part I look for a web solution first.

The biggest shift is that when looking for a solution, I am inclined to pick a web based product simply because the switching costs are lower and it makes hardware obsolete.  As with many things its not obvious at first, but over the past few years I have switched many of my primary use cases to browser based solutions.

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