Version number changes for Thunderbird

Mark Banner mbanner at
Tue May 31 09:53:44 UTC 2011

On 30/05/2011 23:09, Thomas Düllmann wrote:
> 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.
I think it may be useful to remember that a version number is just a 
number assigned to a particular version of software. Historically, we 
have overloaded that version number to imply the size of an upgrade from 
one version to the next, and that's what we're challenging.
> 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.
If you read what's been said about the Firefox version bump, there's 
certainly indications that the general majority of users don't know 
which version they are on. I know of non-tech savy people like this 
(though obviously a very small sample), and they are just happy to keep 
up to date.

However, like you say, many users are aware of the version numbers. What 
they will learn over the first two or three of the new style releases is 
that the version number is no longer going to be indicative of the 
changes in that version.

> 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.
We're not pretending, we're changing the meaning of the version numbers, 
and our marketing will need to reflect that. We are going to be able to 
say that we're rolling out a new release of Thunderbird, which contains 
these features, and the latest security updates. IMO that's much better 
than saying we're releasing version N and folks assuming the amount and 
size of changes in the release based on the increment from the previous 
version number.


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