Yahoo Zimbra Unit Unveils New Web Client

The Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 now includes support for Microsoft Outlook 2007, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and mobile Web browsers. 

Facing an uncertain future as Microsoft bids for Yahoo, Zimbra, the open-source messaging and collaboration software company that was acquired by Yahoo for $350 million last September, will release the next version of its Web client, Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0, on Feb. 5.

ZCS 5.0, is available in 15 languages and now offers native e-mail, contacts, calendar and task synchronization from Zimbra to Outlook 2007, said John Robb, vice president of marketing and product management for the Zimbra business unit at Yahoo.

The suite also provides access to Zimbra from all BlackBerry handsets, J2ME-enabled devices and any mobile Web browser, including the Apple iPhone, Robb said.

The Zimbra AJAX Web client also now includes, for the first time, the Zimbra Desktop, which allows users of existing POP and IMAP e-mail servers to collaborate and work both online and offline.

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The product's support for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server is already being touted by some as a strategic differentiator. "From a business standpoint, this is a huge advantage for Zimbra. It's the last box to check in a product evaluation, and Zimbra is the only open platform that offers it," said David Smith, group technical director for Gyro International.

Web-based instant messaging, which is now built directly into the collaboration suite, supports multiple conversations and group chats, while any file from an e-mail can be stored in the Zimbra Briefcase instead of as an e-mail attachment, and those Briefcase folders can be easily shared, Robb said.

"We are excited that we now offer IM on the platform, and we have [done] some interoperability work with Yahoo's IM as well as with online document authoring and sharing," he said.

"A big focus for us going forward is to continue to add new capabilities, and we are looking for places where we can integrate with other Yahoo properties as that makes sense," Robb said.

In-boxes and e-mail folders can now also be shared and can be made available with read-only access or full management, while there are also new Zimlets that "mash up" Flickr, Yahoo Local, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Search in the collaboration suite, he said.