Don’t feel like shelling out extra for a version of Office with Outlook? Yahoo’s Zimbra Desktop, announced today, is a free desktop program that syncs with a variety of Web-based e-mail clients. Compatible services include Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, and other POP/IMAP accounts. I used Zimbra to connect to my AOL and Yahoo accounts and took it for a brief spin. Here are my first impressions: It’s Not the Smallest Download on the Block At 38MB for Windows (and 34MB for Apple), it’s huge compared to the 6.4MB Mozilla Thunderbird (also free). That’s not deal-breakingly large, but Mozilla’s program is clearly more space-efficient. Dead-Simple Setup After clicking through an onscreen wizard, configuring e-mail accounts was as simple as typing in our username, password, and clicking Save Settings. Pointer: if you check the box “Sync all server folders” the program might run more slowly if your inbox has a large volume of messages. It’s remarkably simpler than Thunderbird’s setup, which asks you to specify the incoming and outgoing servers, which confuses even us sometimes. Easy-to-Learn Interface Do Gmail’s grouped conversations and hidden reply and forward buttons ever piss you off? Google users will find Zimbra’s interface intuitive and refreshing. Designed much like Outlook, it has a white background, with a left hand pane of folders, including, most prominently, your inbox. In the left-hand pane you can also click on various e-mail accounts to display their inboxes and folders. Most of the icons are labeled, and those that aren’t have rollover text so no guesswork is required. Also like Outlook, there’s a large space in the middle, with messages listed on top and a reading pane below. In the top nav, you’ll see tabs for organizing contacts, tasks, documents, and calendars. Although Thunderbird’s interface is cleaner and easier on the eyes, it’s mainly a mail program (organization? not so much). Integrated Web search Here’s something Outlook and Thunderbird don’t have: an integrated search bar with options for Web and local searches. When you do a search, it automatically appears as a new tab in your default browser. Early Verdict Although its interface isn’t as pretty as Mozilla Thunderbird’s and it takes up more space on the hard drive, Yahoo Zimbra is a good choice for people who want a free solution that also doubles as an organizer. It’s also dead-simple to set up and works with almost every e-mail client you’re likely using. Those are our first thoughts; stay tuned for a review.