Almost four years ago, the Mozilla Foundation decided to let the mail program Thunderbird be deveolped by an independent organization. Mozilla is a nonprofit organization, but the popular Firefox browser is developed under the profit-oriented Mozilla Corporation. The same structure was made for Thunderbird, which was placed under the separate company Mozilla Messaging in 2007.

This was done to give the Thunderbird developers an opportunity to “determine their own destiny,” but was actually seen as a downgrading of the priority in the development of the program. For a long time the development of Thunderbird almost stopped, compared to the development of Firefox.

Even then, the question was whether there was a need for desktop mail programs like Thunderbird in a time when many users managed their mail through online services like Hotmail and Gmail.

Since then, Mozilla Messaging has had nearly four years to prove that Thunderbird could fly on its own. But the company never really did get airborne. Now Mozilla has decided to dissolve Mozilla Messaging and integrate it into Mozilla Labs, which are nonprofit.

Mitchell Baker is Chair of the Mozilla Foundation and she revealed this in a blog post earlier this week. The former CEO of Mozilla Messaging, David Ascher, will now lead the group under Mozilla Labs to further develop Thunderbird. Thunderbird users can look forward to an even better experience with Thunderbird in the future.

“Email is a solid and foundational technology which retains immense value,” writes Mitchell Baker.

But she also added that the communication forms on the web is rapidly changing. Much of the communication that was previously done by mail, are now being done via social networking sites, in chat forums and instant messaging services.

“The Web has changed a lot in the last few years.  One of the big changes is how much we now use the Web for messaging, communication and social interactions. We post messages on social networking sites, we tweet, we get messages (often known as “notifications”) from applications, we use Web-based mail systems,” she writes.

(via ComOn)