Version number changes for Thunderbird

Roland MoCo Tanglao rtanglao at
Tue May 31 00:01:52 UTC 2011

For what it's worth:
Normal Thunderbird users who are non technical are totally confused by 
the difference in version numbers between Thunderbird and Firefox AND 
often can't tell whether they are running Thunderbird or Firefox.

Therefore from a support point of view, aligning thunderbird and firefox 
version numbers and releases is a good thing because it will lead to 
less user confusion.


On 11-05-30 3:09 PM, Thomas Düllmann wrote:
> First of all, thanks to Wayne for pointing me to this interesting and 
> informative communication channel, and hi to everyone known and unknown.
> It's unfortunate I'm starting out here with a critical post, 
> furthermore it's somewhat emotional (blame it on the late time of the 
> day, and reduce the severity of the message accordingly after 
> reading), but anyway, here's my comment on the version number changes 
> planned for TB:
> My whole-hearted agreement on Karsten's scepticism against the new 
> versioning intentions.
> Thunderbird is not known for moving very fast in its development, and 
> where it has moved fast (as in the case of the new global search, or 
> maybe the quick filter bar), it has left a desert of UI problems and 
> desiderata that are unsolved to this day. My suspicion is that the 
> merging of MozMessaging with MozLabs with the intention of developing 
> new phantastic products to cover the full range of today's 
> communication channels will not exactly improve the manpower situation 
> for core Thunderbird without bells and whistles, on the contrary. The 
> language in that announcement seems way too defensive to be fully 
> trusted...
> Fast development trains will only help if there is sufficient manpower 
> to actually develop, instead of a dependence on God-sent volunteer 
> contributors like Jim who is currently restoring big chunks of one 
> largely neglected and deteriorated core functionality of TB: 
> attachments UI. While other deteriorated corners will continue to 
> languish, although concepts and suggestions are mostly out on the table.
> What I am trying to say is that exploding version numbers that do not 
> reflect actual feature changes that are relevant to the user (which 
> Gecko versions are not) will add insult to injury from a normal users 
> perspective:
> While version numbers will be rocketing skywards under the new scheme 
> (starting with that leap from 3.x to 5), there will be nothing 
> tangible in terms of bugfixing and UI-improvement / added features 
> that will actually justify those leaps from the traditional user's 
> viewpoint where version number changes reflect visible improvments. It 
> is a myth that version numbers could be de-emphasised, as many of our 
> users are very aware of version numbers: from painful experience 
> widely documented in the forums like getsatisfaction, bugzilla etc., 
> they have come to associate version number changes in Thunderbird with 
> more complications of workflow, continuous erosion of screen real 
> estate, and other dangers which overshadow some of the significant 
> improvements that co-occured.
>> we felt that matching Firefox would make it clearer
>> for developers as to which version of Thunderbird was based on which
>> gecko/Firefox version.
> That main reason for changing the versioning system starts out all 
> wrong because it focuses on the small no. of developers rather than 
> the large userbase. Furthermore, I suppose people that are actually 
> capable of developing Thunderbird will also be able to find out Tb's 
> gecko version even if it's not in the title of the product. If I am 
> not mistaken, finding out the version number used to be as simple as 
> going to help > about. Why do I care that much? Maybe because it's 
> another one of those changes in Thunderbird that the world does not 
> need, and that may turn out to cause more harm than good to an already 
> endangered product. Imagine Thunderbird 10 and we may still not be 
> able to search all of our address books in one go - wouldn't that be 
> weird?
> I'm not always as pessimistic, most of the time I just find lots of 
> bugs and suggest improvements, and than patiently wait for some years 
> till someone picks up on it (or even acknowledges the problem, as in 
> so many unbelievable keyboard/focus issues). A good indicator of such 
> hopeful occasions used to be an increase in the version numbers of the 
> product. With the new suggested versioning system, the version numbers 
> would become largely meaningless to that regard. Yes, version numbers 
> do matter and they should not be abused for technical reasons that are 
> irrelevant for the larger parts of the userbase, or for a false 
> understanding of marketing that bloats version numbers without 
> improving the product at the same pace.
> Otherwise, with respect to matching FF's version no: So far I naively 
> assumed that the difference in version numbers between FF and 
> Thunderbird actually had some truth value with respect to development 
> (due to differences in manpower, resources, you name it). It may not 
> be wise to cover up that truth by pretending to be what we are not.
> Best wishes and greetings,
> Thomas
> On 27.05.2011 00:06, Karsten Düsterloh wrote:
>> Mark Banner aber hob zu reden an und schrieb:
>>> Whilst we could have kept the same numbering system, or adopted a
>>> different one, we felt that matching Firefox would make it clearer
>>> for developers as to which version of Thunderbird was based on which
>>> gecko/Firefox version.
>> I outright doubt that this is solving any real-world problem.
>> Chrome-angst-driven version number frenzy might make (very limited, IMO)
>> sense for a competing browser, but do users really care about the Gecko
>> version of their _mail_ client?
>> I do understand, though, the assumed marketing "value" of pairing the
>> version number with FF. I just think it's nonsense. ;-)
>>> We'll also be de-emphasising the version numbers in our releases,
>> Well, you may do, but will the users? ;-)
>> Karsten
>> _______________________________________________
>> tb-planning mailing list
>> tb-planning at
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

More information about the tb-planning mailing list