The likes of Gmail, as well as Hotmail and Yahoo Mail before that, have conditioned users to the idea that an email client comes with an email address. Gmail is an email service provider, you get an @gmail.com address, it hosts all of your messages and takes care of delivering them to the right people.
But Gmail is also the email client, the thing you use to connect to the online service, to compose new messages or read existing ones.
This has led a lot of people to expect that every email client comes with a new email address, even desktop ones like Thunderbird.
Rather than fight the trend though, Mozilla saw this as an opportunity and started thinking about offering new email addresses and the accounts that go with them to Thunderbird users, if they so desire.
Of course, Mozilla doesn’t have an email service nor does it plan to open up one, so it partnered with existing ones to have them integrated and offered via Thunderbird.
“Back in 2011, we conducted some Thunderbird product research and found that a large proportion of respondents was expecting to obtain an new email address with Thunderbird. As unexpected as this finding was, we looked at it more closely and got convinced that this was a very nice feature,” Mozilla wrote.
“Since Mozilla is not in the business of email service, we decided to partner with email service providers to provide a great range of options. Some of them offer free email, some others paid service,” it explained.
The feature is already working in Thunderbird 11 Beta and should be landing in the stable channel soon. For now, there’s only one email provider included, but more will be once the feature debuts for everyone. In that sense, Mozilla is asking email service providers to come forward and ask to be included.