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ExtremeTech Reviews Google's Gmail Beta 403

JimLynch writes "Gmail, Gmail, Gmail--how do we love thee? Let us count the ways! We finally had a chance to try Google's new e-mail service and we're happy to say that, for the most part, we love it! In this article, we'll give you an overview of what you can expect from Gmail, as well as what we liked and didn't like about it. We'll also tell you what we think needs to be added to make it even better."
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ExtremeTech Reviews Google's Gmail Beta

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  • Another review (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:25PM (#9103576)
    From Dive Into Mark [].

    Also, glad Slashdot FINALLY got a Google section/logo.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:27PM (#9103583)
    GMail doesn't get the framerates I've come to expect from Yahoo!Mail.
  • We just want it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danielrm26 ( 567852 ) * on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:27PM (#9103587) Homepage
    While write-ups on the merits of Gmail are interesting and all that, the authors of such articles need to realize that few people who read /. actually care how good it is at this point. All we care about is getting the username we want; the notion of *not* getting an account -- regardless of faults -- isn't even fathomable...
  • Gmail... (Score:2, Funny)

    by demonbug ( 309515 )
    Does that sound to anyone else like something you would see on a pimp's business card? You know, or something (assuming they had business cards, or used email - I'm not exactly a gold mine of info on the pimping business - it just sounds sort of trashy).

  • G mail... (Score:4, Funny)

    by i love pineapples ( 742841 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:28PM (#9103591) Homepage
    Am I the only one who thought e-mail for homies and not google mail upon first hearing the name "gmail"?
  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:28PM (#9103593) Journal looks like there's not much doing in gmail, save for the gig of space and a few very minor evolutions on what Opera's had for a while in M2.

    Am I missing anything?

    P.S.: I don't really see a reason to switch from mutt.

    • by XMyth ( 266414 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:32PM (#9103611) Homepage
      Unfortunately neither does the other .03% of email users out there. One day we hope to be able to reach this vast market with apps like Thunderbird or Outlook, but that day may never come.
    • by drivelikejehu ( 601752 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:40PM (#9103651)
      Did you even read the review? The "conversations" part of gmail is worth it enough to switch. Plus, with it's weird stylesheets thing it is a HELL of a lot faster than any other webmail system I've used (viewing source just shows a bunch of weird javascript, no html.) They really did a great job designing the UI - I have a feeling you'd be singing a different tune if you actually used it.
      • The conversations part is at best only a slight evolution on how M2 handles threading, at least from what I gleaned from the description.

        So Gmail is the best webmail out there, a sort of M2 moved to the web... I'd still take M2 (which would be my choice for GUI mail apps if it didn't have some bugs with IMAP) because web based email is crap.

        Further, I don't see the point of a GUI mail app; it's a fundamentally text-based activity, so there's no need for graphical bloat. Hence mutt (at least it's not pi

      • by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @02:36AM (#9104296) Homepage

        If it really does show nothing but JavaScript, with no HTML other than that required to launch the JavaScript, then what you're looking at isn't a stylesheet, but some method of obfuscating the information on the page to guarantee that your browser doesn't cache your email in plain text. (Nevertheless Google _are_ the sort to use stylesheets, so they probably use those too.)

        This is a cool idea which I have seen used at one of my previous employers, though in that case we used an applet on the client side to do "proper" decryption of the pages.

    • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:44PM (#9103678)
      Google's trying to have complete immersion in data, and combine with it the useful metadata people are not accustom to, like the easy conversation tracking that I've read about. It just seems like they're trying to push a more database-like look at our data so that it's quicker, faster, and easier to use. And a great way of pushing to that people is having a great large boat of space (1 Gig, with most emails I send and recieve totalling to 50kb, that's a lifetime's worth of email in one location).

      Just because you're not used to this presentation of metadata, doesn't mean it's not good. Look at Nautilius' new file view. I hate it, everyone else seems to love it. Just goes to show you that the interfaces really are different from person to person. Now if only GNOME would embody that spirit some more and let me move around my toolbars within applications *shakes fists*. Oh well, can't ask for everything.

      p.s. This is my theory on why iTMS is doing so well. You're really not buying a copy of the song , you could pirate that anyways. You're buying a copy of the song with a complete set of metadata, which is really hard to come by over P2P. And it's worth 99c to me to buy a song with completed metadata instead of having to complete it all myself. But once again, iTunes even fails for me, because I need a better way of looking through my artists and songs. I mean the UI is great, but it's just not perfect for me, if you understand that. Just goes to show you how important the presentation of the metadata is (and how Google has always been genius at it; KISSing always (keep it simple shorty ;).
      • like the easy conversation tracking that I've read about.

        Which are equivalent to M2's implementation of the same idea.

        they're trying to push a more database-like look at our data so that it's quicker, faster, and easier to use.

        M2 views the email store as a database also, using attributes in lieu of folders (the improvement that gmail seems to make is that they have user-defined attributes... this is a huge improvement on M2's implementation, but hardly earth-shattering).

      • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @01:56AM (#9104176) Homepage
        Thats what Gmail is for. Its for all those people who DONT have a computer themselves and who only use terminals in airports and internet cafes all over the world. They are legion, and previously, had to check their mail regularly or see their unique accounts deactivated. Even if they did check their mail regularly, The amount of space they were given was so small as to be almost useless.

        With Gmail, all of this changes. And there is no barrier to switching, save changing your email address and informaing everyone, this price is very affordable; there are not thousands of legacy emails and family photo attachments that cannot be transfered over to the Gmail - the artificailly low storage limits on the other free systems have seen to that. Once they, the Hotmail legions understand what Gmail is, all the other free services will see users desert them like rats fleeing a sin...well, very fast.

        The only way that the other services can possibly hope to stem this flow is to immediately duplicate the storage and permanency of account features of Gmail. Only then will the price of leaving become too great.

        And that is not going to happen.
    • by zopu ( 558866 )
      That's what I was thinking when I first started using the beta gmail - not much that opera doesn't do...

      ...except for one small difference. I now have those cool features (searching, labels, etc.) wherever I am in the world, regardless of the client machine.

      I wish I could take opera with me. I can't, so gmail is a 'Good Thing' for me.

  • why gmail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:29PM (#9103597)
    I'm still lost on something. Why exactly would I want gmail? Wow. A full gigabyte of mail storage. Who cares? I rack up about a gig worth of email each year and I just dump it to a CD for archiving. All the mail I've ever recieved in the last decade is sitting in my mail folder under Mozilla to this day.

    Is the big deal just that google is offering webmail accounts? If so, there are a million of those and I'm sure they'll be just as spammy as hotmail and anyone else eventually anyway. Free webmail through google is about as interesting as free government cheese.
    • I have three minor and slightly redundant things to say.

      1. People want to be the guy to get "" so they can cease making friends and family remember a 7 digit number when they want to send an e-mail.

      2. Others may want to make back-up accounts for files that they need to keep but aren't highly confidential or frequently used. They could also use it to distribute files amongst a group by uploading it and telling people the password. Now they can waste bandwidth instead up their o

      • 1. So, Gmail will be subject to the first post syndrom for about a few hours...

        2. Why not using a Web site for this purpose? And, you should expect Google to address this issue soon if it happens to be widespread. After all, they are in business to make money, not to lost it.

        3. It depends if it smells really bad or if it will just be a name variant for some sort of rubber.

        • 1. Exactly.

          2. Domains and servers cost money. 1G on a nice server and limited means of prevention without harming usability is a good offer.

          3. I think if it was rotten cheese there would be much more discussion than if it was good cheese.

    • While I see the point you are making, and it is valid, this is something big not only because of the fact that it's 1 gig, and not only because of the fact that it's google, but apparently the UI is a great twist on the overdone e-mail thing, sporting a new "conversation" style in-box.
    • Re:why gmail? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:46PM (#9103686) Homepage Journal
      there are a million of [email accounts] and I'm sure they'll be just as spammy as hotmail and anyone else

      Hell no! I expect Google to be able to clean up spam very, very well, and quickly.

      Or do you think that they are bad at finding things?
      • Re:why gmail? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by G-funk ( 22712 )
        Yeah, because nobody's ever spammed google, and when you're searching you never get bullshit results that just go to other "search engines"...
      • >Hell no! I expect Google to be able to clean up spam very, very well, and quickly.

        It should get better as their training set grows, but it's letting a high percentage of spam through on my account. Today it delivered a second copy of some spam I'd reported the first time it arrived. Not soup yet.
    • Mothers Day (Score:5, Insightful)

      by augustz ( 18082 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:51PM (#9103716) Homepage
      Seeing at it's mothers day a perfect story.

      My folks aren't interest in backing up to a CD (in what format / compatabile with what), installing a piece of software on every machine they want to use email from. Frankly, I'm not either.

      They want a company they can trust, who will provide a nice clean email service with good space, and without tons of ads and menu bars and junk. That is google.

      Volunteer at an old folks home and try to get them to login even to their yahoo email account. The logins and home page are so damn busy that for an older person it is a very real challenge to get to the page they need.

      Ccheck out hotmail, you have to agree to four TOS, sign up for a passport account, check it every 30 days, pay $ for a tiny amount of space etc, they force you to accept members newsletter with product announcements etc etc... and a 140 million folks have accounts with them.

      And you say no one would want Gmail. You are out to lunch. Google is offering a TON more space, a clean interface, from a company folks like.

      They will clean up.

      • I can appreciate that they'll have ads running in the sidebar, but I'd hardly use the claim "They will clean up" WRT to free email. Good luck to them though.
      • Re:Mothers Day (Score:2, Interesting)

        by logic-gate ( 682098 )
        Yes, I agree with you about the limitations of space , etc with the current services. But I don't see all your average "dumb" users queueing up to change their email address.

        The biggest impediment for google trying to get customers to change email is the lock-in effect of their current email addresses. How many hotmail/yahoo users will want to let all their friends and family know that they have a new email address when just sending and receiving mail can be daunting to them?

        The other problem google faces i

    • Re:why gmail? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:03AM (#9103779)
      Seems like this is the hot bullet, I'll give it my shot.

      RFTA to find out a lot of things like conversation tracking, ease of use, good spam defense, 10 meg attachments, and most of all to me, the brilliant layout of the metadata.

      As I stated here [], users today are really into knowing everything about that email even before they open it. So when they do open it, they're not surprised by anything. This is why traditional webmail sucks: the spam these days slips right under most filters used by Yahoo! and Hotmail and the big others. It's also a lot harder to know what someone is replying to without having a lot of those ugly "<"'s everywhere. GMail gets rid of the need for that.

      Also, if you're a busy person like me, and you don't even have enough time to carry around a laptop, and instead use a computer whereever you go, Gmail is great. This is the advantage of webmail over outlook (Outlook is really starting to close this gap with Outlook Titanium. It's almost the whole feel of Outlook through the browser.) and Eudora.

      Google also throws in their great search engine into the mix. "Computer, *churp sound*, give me all emails from this date from this specific person dealing with the Cardassian entrenchment of Yardin-5."

      All and all, GMail is what webmail should be. Hey, they're even throwing in a Gig of storage!
    • and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • Re:why gmail? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UpLateDrinkingCoffee ( 605179 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:09AM (#9103816)
      Well, it's a full gigabyte of mail that's available anywhere you can get to a web browser. Oops, on the road and spilled coffee on your laptop the morning of a huge presentation? Well, just grab the powerpoint from the email you sent yourself. You get the idea...

      It's true you can do this with most other webmail accounts, but Google is rasing the bar not just on the total size of your mailbox, but of individual attachments as well. I would suggest encrypting any ground shattering corporate secrets, though.

      Google has also shown a pattern of providing highly usable services without resorting to gaudy "revenue generation" tactics. I like the fact that they actually seem to CARE about the user experience. This might change after they go public, but at least for now I'm looking forward to using my new gmail account.

    • Re:why gmail? (Score:3, Informative)

      Is the big deal just that google is offering webmail accounts? If so, there are a million of those and I'm sure they'll be just as spammy as hotmail and anyone else eventually anyway. Free webmail through google is about as interesting as free government cheese.

      With the gigabyte of space, it means that people like me now have a viable email backup or even a primary email account that is useful in the business world. When traveling, I don't have to carry my laptop with me if I just want to check on email.

  • I'm glad they covered all the important features and what needs to be added or improved, but I wish they'd spent some time going over the privacy issues and what they think about Google reading our e-mails.

    Ah well -- still a decent review overall. Kudos to Mr. Lynch.

    • by kinzillah ( 662884 ) <.douglas.price. .at.> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:37PM (#9103635)
      You mean like any application that touches your mail? Like that nice spam filter?

      It isn't as though a person is looking through it. Its just a machine looking through for keywords and puttings ads on the side. It isn't even collecting stats.
    • by augustz ( 18082 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:37PM (#9103640) Homepage
      Your emails are evaluated by a computer ALREADY as part of almost every single virus and spam filtering process on the market. Most of these processes include word by word scanning to develop effective spam filters.

      Folks have raised a number of interesting privacy issues. However, I think the EFF has done a MUCH better job then many of the other groups who are literally out to lunch on this.

      If you don't trust google with your email, you can always trust it to hotmail, who will do their level best to lock you into their service, cancel your account, including advertising tags in your messages etc etc.

    • WHAT privacy issues? Google doesn't "read" your emails any more than Hotmail or Yahoo does. Every word you read or write on Hotmail or Yahoo is stored on their servers and even *processed by their CPUs* (gasp) just as much as it is on GMail. Hotmail/Yahoo's spam filters even analyze your messages for content. GMail also analyzes your messages for content. The only difference is that GMail makes a decision about what ads to show you in addition to filtering spam. That additional step has ZERO extra pr
  • Really (Score:2, Funny)

    by labratuk ( 204918 )
    How "extreme" can webmail be?
  • From Google: (Score:5, Informative)

    by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:33PM (#9103616) Homepage
    • From Google: Reviews and comments

      "An outstanding webmail system - outshines all the rest!" -- Google Gazette
      "Three thumbs up!" -- Google Times
      "Why aren't you using it already?" -- Google Management
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:37PM (#9103637)
    Searches and webmail are a great start, but my sources tell me that Google is currently in the development stages of a system that will do my taxes , make breakfast, and find me a girlfriend (and God knows, I hope it works).
  • by Therlin ( 126989 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:42PM (#9103662)
    I love Gmail and I use it daily, unfortunately it cannot do partial word searches.

    I don't know about you, but I'm not the world's best speller and I can't always remember the correct spelling of a location or someone's last name, but I do know the first few words so in my e-mail client I can do a search for those first few letters and find the message I am trying to locate.

    Unfortunately it is not the case with Google Mail. I contacted support and they confirmed the fact for me. "Thank you for your message. Gmail does not currently offer partial word search." They did say that they'd forward it to the appropriate team, but as of this writing, it has not been implemented.
  • mailing lists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoshuaDFranklin ( 147726 ) * <> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:42PM (#9103668) Homepage
    A friend referred me for an account and I love it. He didn't even mention how useful it is with mailing lists. Tired of your email box being filled with 25 messages with the same subject? Gmail puts them all together like

    Linda, Bob, Fred (25) GPL the best?

    Where the first name of the latest reply is in bold. Very cool and very useful for management. I know mutt can already do this with threading, but AFAIK can't open all the messages in the thread together like gmail's conversations. This is a feature that needs to be added to every email client.

  • by crem_d_genes ( 726860 ) * on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:45PM (#9103684)
    ...of all the e-mail accounts I have.
    Maybe google can finally find them.
  • Bad reporting (Score:4, Informative)

    by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:46PM (#9103691) Homepage
    Hotmail syncs with Outlook Express. I've been using it for years.

    I don't know about Yahoo. They may have just mixed up the columns on that one.

    It's also interesting that GMail doesn't do HTML e-mails. Indie-Mail doesn't either through the web (client limitation) but I allow POP3 and IMAP so you can use any client. There are no built in restrictions to the actual mail server.

    And virus scanning should have been a given. There are open source virus scanners if they're using *nix boxes. Indie-Mail uses McAfee which works really well. They may be concerned about the system resources needed to do virus scanning. Although there shouldn't be anything stopping them from running dedicated virus scanning systems that are mapped to the drives on other systems.

    You don't have to run the virus scanner on the same computer that you're scanning.

    They could also just be worried about killing off legitimate e-mails and don't want to send off notices about infected e-mails.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why is everyone missing the biggest point here? Gmail is not about mail, it is about One GigaByte of shared storage! That's how many 6MP pictures? Or how many mp3's? How many accounts will simply be created to just share a gigabyte of stuff?

    Yup, I know there are privacy issues, but have you ever heard of encryption?

    And finally, am I finisheg asking questions?
  • Cool. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrEd ( 60684 ) <> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:53PM (#9103730)
    If you want an email account that's simple, bandwidth-light, fast, ad-free, does https, has 50+ domains to choose from plus more fantastique features, check out FastMail []. I swear I am not astroturfing, just a satisfied evangelizing customer.

    GMail will have targeted ads. I haven't seen a banner ad (spam aside) since I signed up for FastMail years ago.

  • Having 1 gig of space is a lot to fill up for us regalar joes. As hard as that would be for me to fill up, I have heard that Google employees have 1 terrabyte of space. Imagine all the email that would add up to!
  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @11:57PM (#9103752) Homepage Journal
    It could easily be a pirates den. If a CD in MP3s is roughly 100MB, users go into some IRC channel, request with an gmail addy and then it magically shows up in their inbox to download and delete. All at google's disk space and bandwidth.
  • Delete? (Score:2, Informative)

    I have a beta account at gmail. Right now I am tring to delete a email, but have trouble. There is no trashcan icon or 'delete' in the "More Actions" menu. I know it's possible, since there is a folder called trash.
    • Re:Delete? (Score:2, Informative)

      From your inbox, check the message, choose 'move to Trash' from the 'More Actions' menu, open the 'Trash' folder, check the message, choose 'delete forever' from the 'More Actions' menu...
  • Browsers (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlipmodePlaya ( 719010 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:02AM (#9103775) Journal
    In the ET review they are surprised to find keyboard shortcuts work with Moz, Epiphany, FF, etc; not just IE. I was impressed with that, too, I would expect Google to let the minority toil away without such advanced features,

    However, it looks like they don't support all browsers after all: as seen here at their site []. I'm browsing on Opera, so I get this message: 'Gmail does not currently support your browser.'. I wouldn't at all be surprised if they ended up supporting it after the beta, however. As the review noted, a lot of expected features (such as sigs and virus scanning) were left out in this early version.
    • Considering that, from everything I've seen of Gmail, it seems that Google gave its programmers copies of Opera M2 and said, "port this to the web and make some fairly obvious improvements," I'm very surprised that Opera isn't supported. ;o)

    • Re:Browsers (Score:3, Informative)

      by NaDrew ( 561847 )

      I'm browsing on Opera, so I get this message: 'Gmail does not currently support your browser.'. I wouldn't at all be surprised if they ended up supporting it after the beta, however. As the review noted, a lot of expected features (such as sigs and virus scanning) were left out in this early version.

      Excerpt from an email I received from Gmail support after I expressed disappointment in nonstandard/proprietary coding:

      You might be interested to hear that we are announcing a plain HTML version of Gmail, s

  • What I'd like (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:09AM (#9103818)
    A couple of features I didn't see mentioned and that I would like:
    1 - ability to save a selection or all my e-mails offline (say a big zip file)
    2 - label contacts, and create e-mail lists (say all friends, all coworkers, etc)
    3 - bigger e-mail attachements, say 50MB (I know this will never happen as it will lead to abuses, but with digital cameras that can support short videos, this would be nice so I wouldn't have to send several messages with split attachements)
  • Top-posting :( (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h3 ( 27424 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:15AM (#9103852) Homepage Journal
    I'm depressed to see that gmail appears to use top-posting [] aka "jeopardy quoting []" for replies.

    Maybe there is a setting, but if this is the default, then the option to change it is pointless- no one will.

    I hate getting top-posted emails. I hate trying to wade backwards in time to find out what the hell the cryptic first line refers to. Thank you Outlook for bringing this "feature" to the masses and lazy users who can't be bothered to edit quotes meaningfully for wasting bandwidth and my time. And, now, thank you gmail, for perpetuating it.

    I feel like Don Quixote.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I feel like inventing a

      > I'm depressed to see that gmail appears to use top-posting aka "jeopardy
      > quoting" for replies.
      > Maybe there is a setting, but if this is the default, then the option to
      > change it is pointless- no one will.
      > I hate getting top-posted emails. I hate trying to wade backwards in time
      > to find out what the hell the cryptic first line refers to. Thank you
      > Outlook for bringing this "feature" to the masses and lazy users who can't
      > be bothered to edit quo
    • Re:Top-posting :( (Score:5, Insightful)

      by proxima ( 165692 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @01:09AM (#9104039)
      Bottom-posting works well in newgroup or mailing list discussions where people might be entering the conversation at any point. However, I've found that top-posting is most convenient in circumstances where all the conversing parties (especially if there are just two parties involved) use top-posting, as there is no need to scroll down to see the newest addition. If someone by chance enters the conversation late, they still have the info, but it's more convenienct for the majority.

      On the other hand, some posts (especially Slashdot comments) work well with inline posting. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to a mess and having to keep track of the carets/indenting/whatever to figure out who said what and when...thus, it works best in instances where there are few communications back and forth (again, like Slashdot responses).

      Oh yeah, and being the one person to bottom post in a series of messages is far more annoying that just going with the flow. It's kinda like the mass media using the term "hacker" when we might prefer "cracker", you're swimming upstream and humans aren't very good at being salmon (wow, terribly analogy, I know).
  • PGP (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lukew ( 528994 )
    PGP support would be cool.

    Maybe some client-side Java to read in your keys from your drive / USB key to decrypt mail?
    • Re:PGP (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trejkaz ( 615352 )
      Put your email into a text editor, select all, copy, select "Encrypt clipboard" from the system tray, paste into Gmail. Because if you let Gmail itself do the PGP, then they have a copy of the plaintext while they're displaying it, and there is effectively no point in doing the copy.
  • Secure email (Score:5, Interesting)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:39AM (#9103951) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if we could convince Google to allow PGP signatures. Or rather, to automatically generate one. Then it would be harder for spammers and viruses to pretend to be from somewhere else. And if Gmail starts using PGP, I am sure that several others will follow suit.

    Also, I recently received a zipped executable named from a gmail account. I wonder, have spammers already started using Gmail? Or perhaps a virus impersonating the address?
  • Was it just me or was that article fud (pro-google propaganda without really covering the issues). My greatest concern, and I'm sure its one I share with at least one other person, is that I think I may feel quite uncomfortable about targetted advertising. I don't want to get a new girlfriend (lucky I'm reading slashdot :-) and find ads aimed at buying her gifts, nor do I want to write about my ichy balls and have ichy ball remedies on the sidebar. The article did not cover this at all. It will depend on go
  • Beware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dude127 ( 652036 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @01:45AM (#9104154)
    No matter how cool gmail looks (and it does look cool), you are asking for trouble when you agree to route all of your e-mail through a free corporate account.

    After you begin to rely upon their service, you could be at their mercy if you use them as your primary account. They could choose to take away features at a whim (or not provide them as technology advances) or outright discontinue you at will. I don't know about the rest of you, but its a real pain to to switch e-mail (especially if you have a gig of stuff on their servers).

    Not don't get me wrong, by all accounts, Google is a great company. However, like all corportations, Google needs to make $$$. They will start off with innocent banners in your e-mail, but as the company matures they will begin to look at their bottom line more and more (especially if the founders retire) and you'll be at their mercy.

    This is going to sound insane, but I'm hoping that Microsoft builds up a distributed 100K server cluster (or equivalent) to compete against them. Someone needs to keep Google honest :)
  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @02:19AM (#9104235)
    OK, I know 99% of the world finds it too cumbersone to use. But I hope they provide some mechanism to upload a public key and somehow let you have a private key locally to encrypt email. One of the big minuses in getting wide acceptance of encrypted email has been lack of a good, trustworthy central key repository.

    Google will have an almost immediate user base of millions. They can raise awareness of secure email and promote its use easily. Google shouldn't overlook this. People TRUST Google! If Gmail enables reasonably easy-to-use encryption, the widespread use of really private email might finally become a reality.

    One more thing: Do they plan to support SSL connections? Even if you don't need or want the security of end-to-end communication, being able to send and receive email from the Gmail servers without worrying about whether or not your ISP or other network sniffer is looking at your mail. Hey, I may be paranoid (actually there's no such thing as paranoia) but there's a reason why snail-mail envelopes have that "security" pattern printed inside them, you know? I've yet to see anyone who sends their correspondence in transparent envelopes.
  • by jbohumil ( 517473 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @02:52AM (#9104365)
    I have a gmail account. I was excited at first, but at this point it is unusable.

    You can only set up 20 filters, and there is no "and" "or" ability.

    The spam filters only catch about half of my spam. Choosing "Report as spam" doesn't remove any other instances of the same spam which are sitting in my inbox. I get a lot of duplicate spam, so it would have been nice if there was some intelligence here.

    You can't search on custom headers. I run my mail through spam filters before it ever gets to Gmail. These put specialy X-Spam headers in the email messages. You can't search on anything but "From", "To", "Subject", "Has the words" and "Doesn't have the words" which refer only to the body. This is just dumb since the data is obviously there and available to search on.

    The address book is basicaly a place holder, it has no features you'd want beyond the most simple list.

    You can't customize the Inbox view much at all. For example I like to display the "To" address in the Inbox view since I get a lot of mail addressed to different domains, and different email addresses. I need to be able to at least sort on these. I can search on them, but the searches can't be saved like the "Search Folders" in Outlook 2003. This is how a search based email service should work if you've ever seen them, they're great and completely blow away gmail's search feature.

    I wanted to love Gmail, but it's not half the email client that Horde or Squirrelmail are on the web side, and comparing it to client side email programs is not even fair, it offers nothing other than offsite storage and access. If you don't need remote access there is no reason to switch to Gmail at all. I hope they get busy and start pumping up the feature set, I think they have a good beginning but it's no where near ready to compete with mature email solutions.
  • by Sunnan ( 466558 ) <> on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:00AM (#9105724) Homepage Journal
    A quote from the review:

    We were initially suspicious of the keyboard shortcuts, we wondered if they'd only work with popular (but vastly overrated) browsers like Internet Explorer. However, we were quite relieved to discover that the shortcuts worked beautifully with our beloved browser Galeon in Linux. They also worked well using Mozilla and Firefox. They even worked well with the crappy Epiphany browser in Gnome.

    I don't know about anyone else, but that got an out-loud laugh from me.
  • by pearljam145 ( 693265 ) on Monday May 10, 2004 @09:22AM (#9105903) Homepage
    This is from the source itself. Google Mail will soon have a better address book that will allow you to import / export addresses. Also there is gonna be a html interface to the email service. This is the email I got from them -- Hello, Thank you for your message about importing contacts. You might be interested to hear that we are announcing an upcoming feature for importing/exporting contacts, as well as the other following features: - Automatic forwarding of your email to another account - Plain HTML version of Gmail We hope you enjoy Google's approach to email. Sincerely, The Gmail Team

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