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In computers, the Mozilla Thunderbird mail client is a spinoff project from Mozilla, providing a standalone mail and news client. The project aims to develop software that is smaller and faster than Mozilla while still being a fully cross-platform application based on the XUL user interface language. The project strategy is modeled after Mozilla Firebird, a spinoff of Mozilla that aims to create a smaller and faster web browser. In the same way as Firebird aims to extract and improve the browser component of the Mozilla suite, Thunderbird is a refinement of the mail and news interface.
Originally launched as Minotaur shortly after Phoenix (the original name for Mozilla Firebird), the project failed to gain momentum. With the success of the latter, however, demand increased for a mail client to go with it, and the work on Minotaur was revived under the new name, and migrated to the new toolkit developed by the Firebird team.
Significant work on Thunderbird restarted with the announcement that from version 1.5 onwards, the main Mozilla suite would be designed around separate applications using this new toolkit. This contrasts with the previous all-in-one approach, and will hopefully lead to more efficient and maintainable code, as well as allowing users to mix and match the Mozilla applications with alternatives.