Following hot on the heels of Abobe’s Apollo announcement last week, Zimbra has launched Alpha testing of its new Zimbra Desktop e-mail application that works both online and offline. The open source application has been developed using Ajax meaning it works on Windows, Mac and Linux and could prove a powerful competitor to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.
Zimbra are hailing Zimbra Desktop as ‘the next generation leap forward for Web 2.0 applications’. It means that when you are out of your home or office without an internet connection, you can continue working with your e-mail as normal. This includes writing emails, adding new appointments and editing documents. When you re-connect, the changes will be automatically synchronised with Zimbra’s servers. It also plans to offer integrated instant messaging in the final version.
In addition, Zimbra promise a variety of aesthetic improvements to e-mailing such as better overall usability in the form of conversation views and tags with faster searches adept at dealing with huge e-mail volumes. One other cool feature of Zimbra Desktop is the ability to change the skin of the client to that of a company brand. So for example, the interface can be customised to feature company logos and colours.
For business users who are constantly on the move, Zimbra could prove a killer app. Although Outlook features online Webmail, its integration into desktop Outlook is poor and particularly bad in Firefox which offers far fewer options. If Zimbra can successfully integrate this application across multiple platforms, it may well be onto one of Web 2.0’s big success stories.
This first release is the Alpha version with a Beta scheduled for this summer which will also work with POP servers. The final release is due at the end of this year.