Future Eudora Versions Based on Mozilla Thunderbird
Thursday October 12th, 2006
The Mozilla Foundation and Qualcomm have announced that future versions of the Eudora mail client will be based on Mozilla Thunderbird. The first Thunderbird-based release of Eudora is expected to be made available in the first half of 2007 and will be both free and open-source. According to the press release, it will retain "Eudora's uniquely rich feature set and productivity enhancements". Thunderbird and Eudora will remain separate products, though they may benefit from common improvements in the future.
The mission to migrate Eudora to a Thunderbird-based application will be known as the Penelope project. A rough roadmap has been produced, envisaging three initial releases: 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0. Each release will progressively reimplement more Eudora features, with 1.0 being a suitable replacement for most current users. Qualcomm has assigned six employees to the Penelope project, including original Eudora developer Steve Dorner, who started working on the program in 1988, three years before it was purchased by Qualcomm.
The Eudora FAQ on the Thunderbird announcement makes it clear that Qualcomm sees an open-source Eudora as an exit strategy with which it can gracefully leave the email client business. Today, Qualcomm focuses on wireless technology (the company invented the CDMA standard used by some mobile phone networks) and Eudora is somewhat of an anomaly in its product lineup. A final commercial version of Eudora, 7.1 for Windows and 6.2.4 for Mac OS X, has been released at a reduced price. Qualcomm will stop selling this edition once the Thunderbird-based product reaches maturity.
Since this will provide more eyes for the Thunderbird codebase, and hopefully more bug fixes and features. This can only be a good thing. Really exciting times for Thunderbird/Calendar.