We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Reviews
15,499 Reviews

Zimbra Desktop review

FREE

Manufacturer: VMware

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

VMWare's powerful email client Zimbra Desktop could replace your Outlook or Thunderbird in the near future. Find out more: Zimbra Desktop review.

If you're looking for an alternative to Microsoft Outlook - or simply an email client/calendar/contact manager with a more modern, less proprietary view of communications - it could well be the free and open-source Zimbra Desktop. Not only does this elegantly-styled program offer most of Outlook's features, it interfaces to social media sites and services: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WebEx and Digg currently. It supports any POP or IMAP client, including Gmail, Hotmail (Live) and Microsoft Exchange. Unfortunately, importing existing email into Zimbra Desktop from a local client, while not impossible, can be extremely difficult.

At first boot with Zimbra Desktop, you're asked to define a default account; Then you can head to the desktop. Across the top of the main window, you'll see Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Tasks, Briefcase, Preferences, and Social. Most of those are self-explanatory. Briefcase, however, is a sort of built-in online storage feature that stores files using your email account, if it happens to a Zimbra Collaboration Server account. Preferences covers more than preferences; it's also the location where you import files. Social is where you find Twitter feeds, etc. See also: TOP 5 OFFICE SOFTWARE.

Zimbra's approach to email is a bit different from most desktop clients. As with portable devices, if you use multiple accounts you can view the inboxes combined or separately. Emails are displayed as received or threaded. There are also filters, tags, and all the other normal email client accoutrements, as well as the full control over reply addresses in the form of "personas." For most users, it's better at this than Outlook. The only feature I really missed from Outlook was the right-click "rules/always move messages from" filter from version 2010. See all: Software Downloads.

Zimbra also resembles your phone or tablet in the way it handles contacts and calendars. It syncs directly with online accounts and it's a two-way relationship - you can edit your contacts and appointments in Zimbra Desktop and the changes will appear online. Unfortunately, while you can see all your calendars overlaid (or just the ones you select), there doesn't seem to be a way to do this with contact lists.

The one major fly in the Zimbra Desktop ointment is that it's extremely difficult to import legacy email from local clients such as Outlook and Thunderbird. You can set up the open source version of Zimbra server in a Linux virtual machine, import data from Outlook to the server using the supplied conduit, then sync it or export it to the email client. Or, if your IMAP account will hold enough email, sync everything there then back to Zimbra. Not many end users are going to have the desire or patience for either workaround. I didn't.

Unfortunately, Zimbra Desktop vendor VMware was unable to apprise me as to their future plans for direct import. The company may be content to stick with larger groups of users and the server-based import, using the client to leverage business for the email server. That would be a personal bummer for me - I'd like to use the program. I didn't test Zimbra Desktop with a lot of email due to the import issue, but VMware assured me that the program scales well, despite the fact that it stores each message as a separate file.

Zimbra Desktop Expert Verdict »
Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

If you don't have a large local store of email to import, Zimbra Desktop is an incredibly useful and powerful email and communications tool. In terms of interfacing with the online universe, it's pretty much alone in "getting it." I definitely recommend taking a look. Those of us with lots of email can only wish.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Claws Mail 3.8 review

    Claws Mail 3.8

    Claws Mail 3.8 is a simple, multiple-account, multi-lingual local email client with nice basic features but rough Windows import. Find out more: Claws Mail 3.8 review.

  • Yahoo Calendar review

    Yahoo Calendar

    Yahoo's online calendar is free and easy to use, but lacks some of the features of Google's alternative.

  • Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0

    Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0

    Lotus Notes 8.0 has a clean new look, logical menus, and customisable layouts.

  • Microsoft Outlook 2007

    The improvements in Outlook 2007 amount to a touch-up rather than a retooling.

  • Sunbird 8.0 review

    Sunbird 8.0

    Sunbird is a free calendar program from the Mozilla Foundation's Calendar Project.


IDG UK Sites

LG G Watch review: Android Wear smartwatch is the best around, so far

IDG UK Sites

How to join Apple's OS X Beta Seed Program: Get OS X Yosemite on your Mac before public release

IDG UK Sites

Why the BBC iPlayer outage was caused by a DDoS attack: Topsy and Tim isn't *that* popular

IDG UK Sites

See Glasgow 2014 in UHD as history is made