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Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by John I.


Microsoft Exchange and the top Free Alternatives

Large businesses are required to deal with a mass amount of e-mails every day, as well as a large volume of data. For this reason, simple e-mail clients such as Outlook Express may prove to be inefficient in handling these tasks. This article aims to provide you a selection of the top server-sided OS’s which can quickly your business’s productivity.

Microsoft Exchange

The first real suite which can improve your company’s efficiency is undoubtedly called Microsoft Exchange. Being the collaborative product of Microsoft, this app suite is ideal for enterprises who use Bill Gates’ proprietary infrastructure solutions. Some of its main features consist in the ability of handling multiple tasks at a time (e.g. electronic mail, contacts, calendaring etc.) with great ease and speed, instant support for web-based and mobile access and data storage support.

Microsoft Exchange is more than a business-grade e-mail management solution, it is actually an enhanced productivity console for those who need to collaborate on a certain project. Since this software has been developed as an advanced tool for medium and large businesses, it actually requires being set-up on the company’s proprietary servers. For this reason, those who seek to get their hands on such complex product will have to get ready for quite a big price, both in terms of software and hardware associated with it.

Ubuntu Server

One of the best alternatives to Microsoft Exchange is undoubtedly the Ubuntu server edition, which comes as a specialized version of the famous Ubuntu Linux OS. It comes with a lot of innovative functions for businesses, including a top-grade kernel, a full range of server-sided software, but no graphical interface. This makes it undoubtedly a serious server operating system, which is not meant for the novice system admins. It’s rather for those of them who know their job well and want to have maximum control over the situation. Among its enterprise-ready capabilities we are to mention an AppArmor for enhanced security, public and private cloud access, high availability, Mac OS X integration, and virtualization.

Citadel Groupware Server

Citadel is a comprehensive collaboration and messaging server which can be ran on Linux, Solaris, BSD and any other Unix-based OS’s that you prefer. It comes completely free of charge and includes a wide range of features, such as e-mail management, group scheduling, instant messaging, access to public folders, calendaring, and support for mobile devices. It can also be distributed over multiple servers for high availability, local clients and Web access.


The Open-Xchange server comes in multiple versions: the server and hosting version, the advanced server version and the free community supported edition. The latest one is completely free to download and install, but doesn’t feature the proprietary modules of Open-Xchange such as OXtender for Mac and OXtender for Microsoft Outlook. These modules are available only in the commercial editions, which have to be purchased separately, but other than that the community ed. is pretty much similar to them.

If your company owns a lot of Microsoft clients or needs to inter-operate in a MS network, the Advanced Server edition can make the job much easier. That’s because of the extra nifty tools it comes with, such as its proprietary MS Outlook Uploader.


The Zimbra suite is yet another commercial-grade server which comes with a lot of interesting add-ons. It has everything you’d expect from a paid software, such as Webmail, shared folders sync, shared contacts, scheduling, instant messaging and Outlook sync, but it comes entirely free of charge.

It’s web interface is known as Zimbra Desktop. On it you can find all the server features plus external syncing with a wide variety of e-mail accounts, such as Gmail, Yahoo and any other IMAP / POP3 mail.


In 2007, thanks to a European Union’s order, Microsoft had to open a multitude of its protocols, such as the MS Active Directory ones, CIFS and MAPI. SOGo is a server-sided OS based on the latest protocol of Microsoft, MAPI. It provides various key features, such as interoperability between mail servers and native support for multi-tasking.


Zarafa is a MS Exchange alternative which provides native Outlook support. Based in Netherlands, this suite was designed to be added to an existing WebDav and mail server. A simple way of obtaining more information about it would be to install a Fedora Linux test-server, since Zarafa is actually included in Fedora.

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