Space Ramblings

Gmail Failed to Learn the Yahoo Mail Lesson

After Yahoo Mail’s increasingly disastrous attempts to reinvent itself as the high end flashy Web 2.0 interface that most users are avoiding like the plague in favor of the classic version, you would think that Google would take a lesson from that when it moved up to a Gmail upgrade. As it turned out though, Google unsurprisingly behaved in much the same arrogant way, switching users up forcibly to a significantly bug filled update. Gmail 2.0 was supposed to be better, faster and more stable — much the same adjectives that Yahoo used to describe its own Yahoo Mail. Instead Gmail 2.0 proved to be more likely to crash your browser than to improve your email browsing experience.

Of course Gmail didn’t try to foist a bulky and ugly interface onto users the way Yahoo Mail Beta did, but Gmail 2.0 instead was poorly tested with many browsers and presumed that most users would be using IE7 and Firefox 2.0, when in fact a large number of internet users are still on IE6 and Firefox 1.6. Of course Google is being its usual arrogant self about it.

“Most users should see a marked improvement in performance. We recommend using IE7 and Firefox 2 to take full advantage of Gmail’s speedier interface,” said spokesman Jason Freidenfelds via e-mail. Asked about the problems users are reporting, Freidenfelds didn’t address the complaints specifically but said that Google appreciates the feedback it’s getting. “The new code underlying Gmail should allow us to roll out performance improvements more frequently,” he said.

As usual the emphasis is on the capabilities this provides to Google, but the simple reality is that Gmail 2.0 is slower and more bug prone than ever. Google needs to fix that because in the end there are always better solutions.

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