Qualcomm, the developer of veteran email application Eudora, has released the latest Mac version of the application and also confirmed plans to develop its software on an open source basis from mid-2007.

The company last night confirmed a relationship with Firefox developer, the Mozilla Foundation. It also announced that future versions of Eudora will be based upon the same technology platform as the open source Mozilla Thunderbird email application.

This means future versions of Eudora will be free and open source, but they will retain Eudora's features and productivity power. The open source version of Eudora should ship during the first half of 2007.

Qualcomm and Mozilla will each participate in, and continue to encourage development communities based around the open source Mozilla project, with a "view to enhancing the capabilities and ease of use of both Eudora and Thunderbird", the firms said in a statement.

The final commercial versions of the current Eudora products for Windows and Mac have also been released. Once the open source version ships next year Qualcomm will cease selling Eudora commercially. Meanwhile the software costs $19.95.

Existing technical support commitments will be honoured in their entirety.

"I'm excited for Eudora to be returning to the open source community," said Steve Dorner, vice president of technology for Qualcomm's Eudora Group. "Using the Mozilla Thunderbird technology platform as a basis for future versions of Eudora will provide some key infrastructure that the existing versions lacked, such as a cross-platform code base and a world-class display engine. Making it open source will bring more developers to bear on Eudora than ever before."

"We're pleased to welcome Eudora and its millions of users to the world of open source," said Frank Hecker, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation. "This effort should further enrich the Thunderbird technology platform and provide users of both products with an even richer email experience."

More information about the open source version of Eudora is available here.