Zimbra Desktop a True Outlook Replacement?
ZD looks good from what I can see, but how far does it go towards replacing Outlook?
The way I see it, most "integrations" run through Outlook; Office, Acrobat, Mind Manager, QuickBooks, and many other applications or services that are not mentioned.
So how about it, will ZD replace or compliment to Outlook?
ZD as an Outlook replacement
I'll preface this by saying that I'm not a Zimbra God. I have been in the Industry for a long time though, so I'm not that stupid... Good or bad, the world is used to Outlook. So if you're going to peel the world away from Outlook, you have to be a better program and one that's easy enough to use for those who only speak 'Outlook'.
It's been my experience that the current incarnation of the Zimbra Desktop is a poor substitute for Outlook at best. It's basically the AJAX Zimbra WebUI in its own window on your desktop. In much of what Zimbra has been doing, the overall impression that I'm getting from the whole package is that it's scrambling to be like Microsoft. Zimbra as a mail server seems to be scrambling to include 'Common Sense' features into its newer releases rather than really innovating the arena. Zimbra Desktop is no exception. The following is a list of features that either does not exist or is so warped in its execution that it makes Outlook look like solid Gold:
Signatures - You can't build a signature in an HTML file and point the Zimbra Desktop at it. Pasting the code into the signature box doesn't work right either. Add to that the fact that there's a 1000 Character Limit...
Addresses in E-mail: Clicking TO while composing an e-mail leads you to...nothing. You have to KNOW part of the e-mail address in order to search for it. You can't just see your address book and select contacts.
Contacts - ZD is awful at playing with multiple contact lists, especially if they're made in Outlook.
E-Mails by Conversation: As set by the default Class of Service, this has got to be one of the most troublesome features that my Users come to me about. We're on the verge of changing the CoS to display messages normally. Anyone used to Outlook will wail when they see this feature.
Viewing E-mails: Not being able to double-click on an e-mail to open it is awful. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. There's no stability.
Speed - Outlook leaves ZD in the dust. It's faster in almost every way that matters. AJAX is slow and cumbersome.
Themes - Yay. You can make your mail client look different. But when it crashes your mail client when you switch themes, there are issues. And while the Admin might not care about switching from Sand to Steel, the end user will want to. While I haven't done any research into recovering from this kind of a crash, I had to reinstall the software in order to get it running again.
Integration - Zimlets do not make up for ZD's lack of integration with popular programs. Still in their infancy, they're not powerful enough to lean on as serious tools unless heavily customized, IMO.
Notification - You have...to run...another program?! The Zimbra Toaster is so buggy that it hurts. Stay away from this one until they release the next version. It's AWFUL.
We're all about open source and alternatives to Microsoft here, but until Zimbra gets its act together, the Zimbra Desktop is just not a robust enough solution to come even close to being a substitute for Outlook. Especially when your users are all used to it. Outlook WORKS right out of the box for us, every time. ZD does not.
Improve ZD so it replaces Outlook
ZD could replace Outlook for many people if ZD were improved in a few key areas. Many of us hate being totally dependent on Microsoft, love open source, and are desparately trying to break free. For example, when Outlook was taken out of the Students and Teachers verision of MS Office 2007 (which can be bought for $120, is licensed for 3 PCs, meaning a new desktop or laptop could be rigged up with Office for $40), it created the need for a separate Outlook replacement: nobody can afford the full MS Office 2007 for every PC just to get Outlook.
So, the first thing we try is Windows Live Mail, which many people still don't know exists. It's actually does a very good job though minimal, but in some respects, improves on Outlook in the ability to set up multple accounts and have them right there in from of you. When I first tried ZD, it looked really good for a few minutes, muhc nicer interface, and then one big problem arose when I tried to set it up: wher are the data files (I still can figure it out, buried in the C: partition somewhere), and can I change the default directory so the email can be saved on another non-operating partition. The issue is real simple: I must save my emails, I don't save everything on a web or server, PC's crash, most everyone knows to keep data on a separate partition (and backup). We must have full control over the data. Windows Live Mail does this very very well, you can save everything whereever you want with one click, and much easier than Outlook.
I want ZD to improve. I want out of Outlook. Support Open Source.