Yahoo suitor Microsoft probably isn't looking for an open source collaboration suite with native email, contacts, calendar, and task synchronization to Outlook 2007, but the object of its affection just happens to have one.
Zimbra, which Yahoo acquired in September 2007 for about $350 million in cash, is rolling out Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 (ZCS 5.0) this week. The new version supports Microsoft Outlook 2007, and BlackBerry Enterprise server and J2ME for mobile users.
Any file from an email in Zimbra can be stored in a "Briefcase" instead of as an email attachment. The Zimbra Desktop provides offline access to the suite, including all email features, calendar access, folders and search.
The Ajax-based Zimbra supports Windows, Linux and Macintosh platforms, and can consolidate multiple types of email accounts, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail or any IMAP or POP mailbox (below).
In addition, ZCS 5.0 also has integrated instant messaging (below).
As expected, Zimbra is more tightly integrated with Yahoo, via mashups (Zimlets) with Flickr, Yahoo Local (below), Yahoo Finance, and Yahoo Search.
Zimbra claims to have 11 million paid mailboxes, mostly among ISP customers and universities. New Zimbra customers include Red Hat, Texas A&M University, Kuwait University and Dai Nippon Printing. The open source edition of ZCS 5.0 is free and the commercially supported Network Edition has a 60-day free trial.
Pricing for the Standard edition starts at $18 per user per year (for 50 sears) and $28 per user per year for the Professional edition. Educational users receive a 50 percent discount and service provider pricing is under $10 per user per year. Zimbra Mobile and technical support require additional fees.
Satish Dharmaraj, Yahoo vice president and Zimbra co-founder, addressed the Microsoft question in a forum post.
At Zimbra, nothing has changed. We will remain utterly and thoroughly committed to making our customers successful. We will continue to innovate at a great pace. We will continue to disrupt the market with products that are years ahead of our competition. We will continue to embrace open standards. That's our DNA. And we remain committed to doing that.
He concluded his post, "Thankfully, I can confidently say that the Zimbra movement is bigger than any one company."
But would the open source Zimbra movement, a competitor to Exchange, really survive a Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo? Perhaps if it is jettisoned from the mother ship. Maybe Microhoo would settle on Zimbra as its core mail/calendar engine for HotMail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook users, and rethink its position on open source. Doubt it.