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By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-04-28 Print this article Print

Also getting the stand-alone treatment is the Mozilla mail client, which will now be known as Thunderbird (formerly Minotaur). This client will also have an XUL interface and will work across platforms, but it will also be more attractive to businesses and users that want a good open-source mail client but dont want to add an entire browser suite to get one (see screen).

Other Mozilla components, such as Chatzilla and Composer, are currently up in the air—it is not clear if they will become stand-alone applications or add-ons to Firebird and Thunderbird.

The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink model of the big Web browser/mail client suite will still be easily available for users who want it. In the road map, The Mozilla Organization has indicated that it will most likely ship Firebird builds with all the most popular extensions and add-ons included—although they will be turned off by default.

As far as development goes, it will be harder to predict the effect of the switch to a strong individual owner. This model is very common in open-source applications, but it is usually found in more stable and less innovative applications.

For many businesses, having a more stable option for browsers and mail is clearly a good thing. But there is also the possibility that Mozilla innovation could slow down and the browser could be surpassed by more innovative products such as Opera or Konqueror—in much the same way that IE has fallen behind other browsers in functionality.

Interestingly, what would become the old Mozilla code could also become a competitor because its open source and others can continue to develop it.

Overall, however, the future moves laid out by The Mozilla Organization are overwhelmingly positive, especially for those who think a browser should be a browser and a mail client should be a mail client.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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