Zimbra takes Yahoo Mail offline just as I've learned to love it online

Yahoo has introduced offline access to its Mail product through Zimbra. But this is almost a step backward for me.

Yahoo announced today that it's letting Zimbra run amok, improving its Yahoo Mail with offline access. CNET's Stephen Shankland has a good review of how this impacts Yahoo Mail users, as well as some warts that remain.

It's a pretty significant move since it means that Zimbra is now reaching more than 250 million people, instead of the "mere" 11 million that it was touching before. That's even more than the number of people currently using Firefox. Next time your mom asks what open source is, you can tell her "Zimbra" or "Firefox." She's likely to appreciate the value of open source (and the job you do) between those two examples.

The ironic thing for me is that despite berating Zimbra for a year to develop an offline version of its excellent software, I almost never use it anymore. E-mail for me has become a tab in my Firefox browser. Sure, if I get on a plane then I'll use Zimbra Desktop, but even with how much I fly (125,000-plus miles each year), that's still only 1 percent of my life). I almost never need it.

So, thank you, Zimbra, for providing offline access to my corporate e-mail (We use Zimbra here at Alfresco), and for helping to enrich Yahoo's e-mail experience. But it's just insurance to me now. You've converted me to life in the browser. I'm not going back.