The Differences between Mozilla versus Firefox 1.5 and Thunderbird 1.5

Note: please read the article "The Relationship and History between Mozilla and Netscape" first.

The Mozilla open source project began as a way of developing the next generation of the Netscape Communicator suite. The Mozilla suite, like Netscape Communicator, is an 'all in one' application, which contains a browser, email/newsgroups client, address book, and an HTML editor. Additional components, added to the suite were an IRC chat client, and web development tools (DOM Inspector, JavaScript Debugger).

A group of Mozilla contributers wanted to use the Mozilla code to build a much more streamlined product. They wanted to build just a browser, without the complications and added code, brought on by additional components. Because this product did not have commercial interests, developers were able to make drastic changes to elements like the user interface. As one person put it, "It does one thing, and it does it well."

The way how it works is they take only the core Mozilla code, and start building independently from there. Most features are ported, but some not. It's really a 'pick and choose' basis, for the developers. There are many features that are adopted by way of the core Mozilla code, but the user interface is completely separate; so there are many features that may appear not to be available, but are. In addition to adopting features from the Mozilla core, other features can be developed exclusively for the stand-alone applications. It all depends on how well it fits into the philosophy.

Inherent differences:

List of features/options the two setups do not share:

(F) - Indicates that an extension is availble to add this functionality to Firefox.
(T) - Indicates that an extension is availble to add this functionality to Thunderbird.
(M) - Indicates that an extension is availble to add this functionality to Mozilla.
Firefox1.5/Thunderbird1.5 Mozilla Suite
Firefox 1.5
  • Automatic update system, including smaller update files
  • Extension Manager / Theme Manager
  • Faster browser navigation
  • Drag and drop reordering for browser tabs(M)
  • Better popup blocking, including popups from plugins
  • Better support for Web Standards including SVG, CSS 2 and CSS 3, and JavaScript 1.6.
  • Double-click on about:config boolean prefs, switches the pref value automatically
  • favicons are in bookmarks.html (hidden Mozilla setting)
  • customizable toolbars
  • search bar
  • 'Go' menu remembers history between sessions
  • preferences are in Tools menu
  • live bookmarks
  • remembers page style [view -> page style]
  • disable CSS via View Menu as a global preference
  • Show a blocked pop up
  • descriptive error pages
  • Clear History, Saved Form info, Passwords, Download history, Cookies, and Cache, all with one button, or automatically.
  • download manager can be purged on exit or successful download
  • choose download folder, so you're not prompted where to save every download
  • 'clean up' button in download manager
  • disable plugin by file extension
  • autoscrolling(M)
  • update checks for extension updates too
  • open a bookmark in a new tab with ctrl+click/middle click
  • options for how to open links from other apps, and how to handle links that open new windows.(M)
Thunderbird 1.5
  • Automatic update system, including smaller update files
  • Extension Manager / Theme Manager
  • customizable toolbars(including a quote button)
  • preferences are in Tools menu
  • vertical view layout pane (3 columns)
  • Global Inbox
  • UI for multiple identities
  • Improved support for Multiple Identities for an account.
  • RSS integration
  • Message Grouping
  • Saved Search Folders
  • Spell check as you type
  • Auto Save As Draft for mail composition
  • Phishing (Scam) Detector
  • Deleting attachments from messages
  • Message aging
  • Sort address autocomplete results by how often you send e-mail to each recipient.
  • Support for server side spam filtering.
  • Junk Mail Controls have a reset button
  • Better Anti-virus support.
  • Message filter actions to automatically forward or reply (with a template).
  • Open .eml files in a stand alone message window
  • Default handler for .eml files
  • Better interface for multiple SMTP accounts
  • Better interface for searches, and filters.
  • Ability to create views or search/filter on flagged messages.
  • Support for Network timeouts for IMAP, POP3 and SMTP.
  • TLS Support for POP3.
  • Kerberos Authentication.
  • Retrieve headers only on POP mail
  • block/unblock remote images per message
  • News supports displaying the size column in KB or in Lines
  • paste images from clipboard in message compose window
  • Server wide news filters
  • profile passwords
  • links are opened in any browser (without having to have the Mozilla browser open)
  • display column to indicate an attachment
  • Bookmarks button in Personal Toolbar
  • Notification when a bookmarked page is updated
  • Print icon has dropdown menu (F)
  • "New Tab" button in the tab bar (available as a toolbar button in Firefox)(F)
  • sidebar
  • Password Manager and Cookie Manager are accessible via the browser window menu bar(F)
  • more keyboard shortcuts, particularly ctrl+I to get page info
  • quick launch(F)
  • dynamic profile switching
  • profile manager in start menu (also in Thunderbird, but not in Firefox)
  • profile manager creates a folder for new profile
  • location bar history and browser history are cleared separately(F)
  • history is displayed in independent window, with columns(F)
  • send page(F)
  • about:about, about:logo
  • edit page
  • upload files to FTP sites(F)
  • better and more complete text zoom
  • site navigation bar(F)
  • 'Open New Tab' can be set to automatically open your homepage(F)
  • Grippies(FT)
  • Plug-in support for mail and newsgroups
  • Ability to middle-click(or Ctrl+Click) on a link in mailnews, to open it in a new tab.
  • Ability to right-click on a link in mailnews, to open in a new tab or new window.
If you have found more items for this list, please contact me, so I can add them.

Brief History
When this browser project began, it was called Phoenix. At some point, a couple of contributors to the Mailnews component of Mozilla decided to start an equivalent project with the Mozilla Mailnews code (named Minotaur). In the Spring of 2003, the Mozilla roadmap was changed to focus development on the stand-alone applications. After Netscape development was ceased later that year, Mozilla decided to start marketing their products to end-users. To create a continuity and identity, Phoenix and Minotaur were renamed Firebird and Thunderbird. As Firebird grew more popular, there were concerns about legal issues with another open-source project called Firebird; so Firebird was renamed Firefox.