Mozilla Drops Development of Namesake Suite

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-03-10
 
 
 
The Mozilla Foundation late on Thursday reversed course by announcing that it is no longer planning to develop major updates to its original application suite.

Instead, the open-source project will focus its efforts on its stand-alone Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client, the foundation said in a "transition plan" posted to its Web site.

Mozilla previously had indicated plans to turn its attentions to Firefox and Thunderbird, but the foundations leaders also said that updates would continue for the Mozilla suite, nicknamed "Seamonkey."

The suite, Mozillas initial project when it was formed about five years ago, bundles a Web browser, e-mail application and Web-page editing tool into one.

Acknowledging confusion about its intentions among its own contributors, the foundation said in the transition plan that it will end development with the Version 1.7 line.

It apparently plans to release Mozilla 1.7.6 within the next few weeks, but it is unclear exactly when the suites development will end.

"The ongoing alpha and beta releases of Seamonkey 1.8 have suggested that the Mozilla Foundation itself will be creating a 1.8 final release. This is not our plan," Mozilla said in the statement. "The 1.8 releases have been for testing our backend.

"We intend that the 1.7.x line of releases will be the last long-lived, maintained versions released by the Mozilla Foundation."

Officials with the Mountain View, Calif.-based foundation did not immediately respond to requests for comment and clarification on its plans.

Is Firefox heading toward trouble? Click here for a column.

In a Weblog posting, Mozillas release coordinator, Asa Dotzler, wrote that the foundation will continue to support users of the suite with minor updates such as security fixes.

As recently as December, Dotzler told eWEEK.com that Mozilla had released alpha builds of Version 1.8 of the suite and was planning a full release in the spring. Mozilla had released Version 1.7.5 at that time.

Dotzler had said that Mozilla was targeting major feature enhancements at its Firefox browser while maintaining the suite. Mozilla 1.7, released in June, was the last stable branch of the suite.

Stable branches have been used as the basis for other software distributions, such as America Online Inc.s Netscape browser and Linux distributions.

"There is no doubt that the series of 1.8 alpha and beta releases have caused some confusion about whether there would be a 1.8 product released by the Mozilla Foundation," Mozilla noted Thursday.

"In addition, a set of people have done a nontrivial amount of work on 1.8 features, thinking this would be part of an official Mozilla Foundation release. This has been [an] error on our part."

Mozillas shift in plans comes as it is largely exceeding expectations for its Firefox browser. Since its full release last year, Firefox has gained about 27 million downloads and grabbed a significant share of users from Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer.

Mozilla President Mitchell Baker, in a blog posting, indicated that the project would provide infrastructure support to Mozilla contributors who are interested in continuing the suites feature development as open-source software not officially released by the foundation.

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