Zimbra sprouted from a revolution in the software industry that looms as a long-term threat to Microsoft and other giants. At its heart is a virtual army of software hobbyists who collaborate online to create free programs. Like bloggers and YouTube addicts, they hang out on the Web at all hours, largely for no pay.
Now, start-up companies are helping themselves to this software, piecing it together like Lego blocks into new commercial products. Often, they post the products’ underlying code on the Web and tap more volunteers to help improve it. Then they sell the software online, saving the cost of a large sales force.