Free Zimbra Software Survives Microsoft Scare

Under Yahoo umbrella, program offers E-mail, contact manager, and other Outlook look-alikes.

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There are lots of Yahoo employees breathing a sigh of relief after Microsoft backed away from its takeover bid. But perhaps none more than those at Zimbra, a suite of applications that Yahoo bought last year. Unlike most of Yahoo, Zimbra takes dead aim at some of Microsoft's core software.

Zimbra offers E-mail, calendar, contacts, and more. Sounds like Outlook. And Zimbra is free in its basic form to consumers and small businesses, much as Outlook is to Windows users.

But Zimbra is also sold in more ambitious versions meant as sophisticated software to help employees work together. That sounds like higher-end versions of Outlook and its back-office partner, Microsoft Exchange. Those products are crucial to Microsoft's efforts to keep itself at the heart of corporate computing.

Little else at Yahoo seemed as direct a challenge to Microsoft as Zimbra. The consensus was that Microsoft would shutter Zimbra soon after getting Yahoo.

Dodging the takeover doesn't mean Zimbra can beat Microsoft. But as long as Zimbra stays alive, consumers and even businesses can get free access to pretty cool software.