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Zimbra to bring instant messaging to Web e-mail

Zimbra's Web e-mail and calendar next year will get integrated instant messaging and a beefed-up offline client.

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Zimbra plans to introduce integrated instant messaging to its Web-based e-mail and calendar software next year, the company's CEO said.

The open-source software company is also set to release an "offline client" in December that will allow people to use the Web-based software when disconnected from the Internet.

Zimbra's software uses AJAX heavily, which means people can drag and drop items as in Exchange or Notes. The chat and presence features will allow people to exchange instant messages from within their e-mail/calendar client. And the offline client, when it's available in December, will allow people to carry on when they're offline and then update their mail when they get reconnected.

Zimbra also plans to expand its offline client to work with e-mail servers other than Zimbra's, CEO Satish Dharmaraj said. That would allow people to forward mail from other services and use the Zimbra client.