Mozilla Software

Zimbra Desktop

Yahoo owned Zimbra released the latest Zimbra Desktop today. At a glance it seems pretty nice. Essentially Yahoo Mail running on Mozilla Prism. It does seem somewhat of a large download for what it is. But maybe they still have some fat to trim. What is now Firefox was pretty hefty when it first split from Mozilla App Suite. It takes time. The installer is also very slow. I see it has jetty, so looks like there’s a Java backend.

It supports any POP3 or IMAP account similar to Thunderbird, with options for Gmail and Yahoo Plus in the wizard (for those who don’t know what type of email account those are).

My general impression is pretty neat, but the UI needs work. It often has scroll bars to view the contents of a window (just like a webpage). This is normal in a browser, but just feels strange in what is designed to be like a client side application. Even setup has this problem.

So far I still think Thunderbird and Apple Mail provide a better desktop experience. But Zimbra’s the new kid on the block, so I wouldn’t underestimate it. It is Open Source. It will be interesting to see who contributes to it.

If anyone else tried it, I’m curious to know what you thought of it.

1 reply on “Zimbra Desktop”

The main reason for the bulkiness of the download is that it includes the entire Java-based Zimbra server. This was done because so much of the application logic resides on the server. I think that moving forward more web app developers will strive to put all application logic in the client (or technology like Jaxer will be used to deploy code that can be executed on the server or client as appropriate) and use the new offline capabilities being deployed by browser vendors (including FF3 of course!) to cache code and store data on the local machine. Hopefully Zimbra will tackle this at some point, but the development effort would be significant considering the size and complexity of the existing code base.

The other win would come from using the existing XULRunner runtime on machines which have it installed (including any machine with Firefox). The current ZD download is somewhere in the 30-40Mb range. With these changes, I could imagine it cut to a few 100k at most.


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