Dan Farber writes about “a new open source project and collaboration suite from Zimbra offers good insight into Web 2.0 and where ‘desktop’ applications are heading. ”
Zimbra’s desktop and wireless clients uses standard protocols like IMAP, POP, MAPI and iCal, and interfaces with common clients (via a migration wizard) such as Outlook, Apple Mail and Eudora. The zero-footprint client (no download) runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac using Firefox and IE. A screen shot gallery is here, and the company has a flash and hosted demos.
The AJAXed interface and design decisions make e-mail and calendaring much less clunky compared to other e-mail clients. For example, information, such as calendar, tracking numbers, CRM data, map info (see below) and real-time inventory counts, can be accessed with messages via a rollover. Skype is also integrated into the clientroll over name, get the phone number and call. These “mash-ups” that surface external information in a meassge, and the fact that it is a Web client that has the richness of a desktop client, is a good barometer for what’s to come from any software developer on the face of the planet.