Zimbra has flaws but is superior to Webmail

Zimbra: is it merely the newly adopted e-mail system now being used by the College, or is it the next best thing to hit the e-mail world since Gmail went public? I’m not going to go so far as to say that the switch to Zimbra deserves a parade, but it’s a nice improvement over the College’s previous e-mail client, Squirrelmail.

For my personal e-mail I am a loyal Hotmail user. Recently I upgraded to the new Windows Live Beta version of Hotmail and I must say that I love it. The choice of custom colors, the reading pane and even the general feel of it appeals to me.

Zimbra feels the same to me, although it could be that I just like any kind of change. Upgrades are a necessary part of life. I love to be up on the latest release; it doesn’t matter what it is.

Squirrelmail was a bit behind the times and unfortunately we had to make the sacrifice for the greater good of the College, but we must be strong and move on.

Squirrelmail can’t hold a candle to Zimbra. The new system boasts the ever-popular reading pane that opens your message up in the same window as your inbox, a feature that’s practically standard on new Web mail systems now.

And I like the “hover over” feature where if you place your cursor on a message, you can preview the first dozen or so words. This is extremely helpful when you have a professor that sends multiple e-mails in a day and you want to quickly see which letter is which.

Another little bonus that I’ve been testing out are the Zimlets. These nifty little tools such as the Yahoo! Traffic Zimlet let you type in your address and check the traffic levels near you.

My favorite toy is the Google Translator where you can drag any message in your e-mail and translate it right there. This means that you have instant help on your Spanish homework. It tends to be a little temperamental at times, but when it actually translates the message it’s pretty entertaining to translate it back into English and see where the translations went wrong. Other than that everything works pretty well.

Unfortunately, all of this technology comes at a price. The load time for Zimbra almost makes one yearn for the not-so-distant utopia of the nearly instantaneous Squirrelmail. Zimbra, like my own personal Web mail behemoth Windows Live Mail, takes a year and a day to properly open up, although this could be written off by the amount of integration the system has, which actually makes it one step better then Windows Live Mail.

And of course it’s light-years ahead of Squirrelmail.

The one thing I can say that Zimbra doesn’t deliver is an in-house news service. I wish there was a way that I could read the news without having to navigate away from my inbox, but that’s just a minor nuisance.

Overall Zimbra delivers to me. I’m impressed by the little details.