Thunderbird 78.x and enabling OpenPGP by default

Kai Engert kaie at
Tue May 26 17:36:59 UTC 2020

On 26.05.20 16:22, Bardot Jérôme wrote:
> I think this kind of functionalities should only be activate by default
> if we can be sure it can easily use in some uses cases that include
> mobile device (like smartphone) in order to not make (not powered) users
> crazy.

Hello Bardot,

please let me explain my original message in more detail, because there 
might have been a misunderstanding.

We don't suggest to automatically enable encryption for emails.

The OpenPGP feature enhancement will allow the *optional* use of 
encryption and digital signatures.

However, to offer the OpenPGP feature to users, the functionality should 
be considered sufficiently stable and complete.

We're not there yet. We'd like to take two more months to develop 
further improvements for the new OpenPGP feature.

The usual time to release new features is at the time of a new major 
release. So the natural timing would be the 78.0 release, which is 
scheduled for end of June.

However, because the schedule of the 78.0 release depends on external 
factors (we don't want to change the schedule of the 78.0 release), and 
because the new OpenPGP feature isn't yet sufficiently complete, we want 
to deviate from that usual approach.

To prevent that users will discover and use a feature, we have the 
technical ability to disable the feature, and hide it in the user interface.

That's what we suggest to do: For the initial Thunderbird 78.0 release, 
don't yet offer the new OpenPGP feature by default. Keep it disabled by 
default. Hide the related user interface by default. Make it impossible 
for users to discover the new feature.

Nevertheless, the feature is included in the shipped product. It's just 
disabled by default.

We'd also add a new (hidden) configuration option. Users of Thunderbird 
78.0, who are willing to test the feature and accept the limitations, 
would be able to change that hidden configuration option, and be able to 
make use of the OpenPGP feature.

The suggestion is to keep the functionality fully turned off and hidden 
by default, for both the Thunderbird 78.0 and 78.1 releases.

However, because the old Thunderbird 68.x version will no longer get 
security updates after September, and because the Enigmail OpenPGP 
Add-on can no longer be used with Thunderbird 78.x, we want to deliver 
the new functionality in Thunderbird 78.x as soon as possible, this 
year, before support for Thunderbird 68.x ends.

We hope that Thunderbird 78.2 will be the version that can enable the 
new OpenPGP feature by default, meaning, that the related user interface 
will be enabled, that the automatic processing of arriving messages will 
work, and that users will be able to discover the new feature.

The user would still be required to opt in, by using the Mail account 
preferences to configure and enable the active use of the OpenPGP 
feature for a specific Mail account.

Thanks and Regards

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