Rest in Pieces, Mozilla Browser Suite

The Mozilla Foundation is calling it a day and officially putting to rest the Mozilla Application Suite, known as Seamonkey. No further development will be done on old-man Mozilla, as focus shifts entirely to newcomers Firefox and Thunderbird. But the legacy browser will live on with a new name and independent community.

Although phasing out the Mozilla suite has been a longstanding plan for the Mozilla Foundation, it wasn't clear when it would actually occur. Version 1.7 was referred to on project roadmaps as the "final stable branch," but officials also stated, "We are not retiring the Seamonkey application suite, or its XPFE front end, in the foreseeable future."

Adding to the confusion, alpha and beta releases of Mozilla 1.8 suggested that development would continue. Thus, programmers kept coding and translators kept translating.

Concern peaked this week following a summary of a February 28 Mozilla Foundation staff meeting. Under the heading of "Mozilla 1.8 final" the notice read, "To be discussed tomorrow whether we do one."

On Thursday, a transition plan confirmed what many had speculated: "The 1.7.x line will be the last set of Seamonkey products released and maintained by the Mozilla Foundation."

Officials were quick to quell fears that work on Mozilla was simply lost time, reassuring developers that a community could take over the project. "The Mozilla Foundation will provide infrastructure for those interested in working on the 1.7.x releases, which we expect will include a number of vendors who provide these products to their customers."

The Mozilla Foundation recognized, however, that some contributors have devoted a significant amount of time to improving version 1.8 and apologized for the miscommunication. "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."

"This has been a error on our part. These contributors have reason to be unhappy with us. We can only apologize, at the same time recognizing that apologies only go so far and can't fix the error."

Mozilla developer Asa Dotzler chimed in on his Web log, admitting, "We've done a poor job at communicating our product roadmap. Our focus, too often, has been on technology roadmaps and project management, and not on product management."

"We're hard at work trying to remedy some of that," Dotzler said.

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