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Yahoo To Update Mail Service 302

tonyq writes "Yahoo! is beginning beta testing of a completely reworked UI for Yahoo! Mail that incorporates DHTML technologies. The web-based application resembles a desktop e-mail client. Features include message preview; drag-and-drop filing; the capability of quickly searching e-mail headers, body text and attachments; and the ability to view multiple e-mails at the same time in separate windows and scroll through all message headers in a folder rather than one page at a time. Other niceties are auto-complete, right-click menus and standard keyboard shortcuts. A user who got an early look has graciously posted screenshots. Yahoo is also taking signups on their what's new for Mail page."
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Yahoo To Update Mail Service

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  • It looks impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by madstork2000 ( 143169 ) * on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:39PM (#13562000) Homepage
    I saw the new interface when my cousin, who works for yahoo was visiting. He was borrowing a computer, and I looked up and saw what I thought was Outlook Express. I went over to tell him the virtues of Firefox, when I realized what I saw was really an impressive browser based mail client.

    This was back in early August, he said employees had been using it for a while, but it was hush-hush. He seemed pretty sheepish about it, and made me promise not to post on Slashdot, apparently yahoo wanted it under wraps for as long as possible.

    He did give me the dog and pony show, and I must say that it really is a pretty slick application. Though I did not get to really test it, just watched him walk through it.

    I own a small hosting company,and wanted to see what web-based mail clients were out there that I could use for my customers. Squirelmail and TWIG looked pretty ugly in comparison. Incidently I found an open source mail client that has a lot of similar functions: Round Cube I haveinstalled that and it is almost as impressive. []

    Anyway, it is amzing how far web applications have come in such a short period.

    • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:55PM (#13562140) Homepage Journal
      Squirelmail [. . .] looked pretty ugly in comparison.

      Hey! Don't call my baby ugly!

      Former SquirrelMail "Head Nut"

      PS: It's spelled with StudlyCaps.
      • Some babies have faces only a mother could love :)

        Seriously, though thank you for SquirellMail. It along with TWIG, and Iloha mail have been open source staples for my clients for a long time.

        In many cases these mail clients were the first direct exposure (hands on) that those users had to open source software. I have many users insist upon using SquirrellMail as their sole email application.

        Thanks again,
        • You're certainly welcome for the small bit I contributed.

          I said "my baby", but I'm really more of an estranged uncle. The project was Luke Ehresman's brain child.

          And there are a score, or more, developers who deserve far, far more credit than I.

          Anyway, I'm glad you like it. It still gives me a little thrill whenever I see it in use or see a reference to it.

          Thank you for exposing people to Free Software, and thank you for fulfilling the important and often overlooked role of providing commercial end-user s
          • hehe, I know that feeling. I worked on Geeklog a while back, and when I saw it was being used for Groklaw, I was smiling for hours. In many ways, that's what brings me back to working within Open Source projects when I find a bit of time.
    • by Seumas ( 6865 )
      Yeah, I'm going to trust my email and privacy to a company that worked with the Chinese government to imprison a journalist for a decade.
      • You have a good point! Yahoo China should operate by US law! In fact everywhere should operate by US law! Go USA!!!

        Sorry about the sarcasm. I suppose you could live in China and have a legitimate concern.

    • by uberchicken ( 121048 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @08:02PM (#13562199)
      > He seemed pretty sheepish about it, and made me promise not to post on Slashdot

      You're claiming some kind of twisted "first post" aren't you.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Does this new interface make it easier for Yahoo! to turn Chinese dissadents over to the government for immediate torture? That's an important feature!
    • Where do they come up with these names?

      I think I'll call my next project "Big Small"!

    • I own a small hosting company,and wanted to see what web-based mail clients were out there that I could use for my customers. Squirelmail and TWIG looked pretty ugly in comparison.

      There are lots of good ones out there now. If the customer doesn't already have an email infrastructure, you might also want to have a look at Citadel [], which has all of its data stores and protocols built in (even its own HTTP engine so you don't have to integrate it into your Apache server). It has an attractive web UI with a
    • Round Cube is pretty nice and a real step up in interface design over squirrelmail, but still has some bugs and is a bit slow if you have large mailboxes. But then again, it was just released last month. ;-)

      I'm working on encorporating it into already. I submitted some code back to the author to deal with long folder names and stuff.
    • Incidently I found an open source mail client that has a lot of similar functions: Round Cube I haveinstalled that and it is almost as impressive. []

      Unfortunately the 'planned feature' list is a little bit of the essentials, namely:

      * Forwarding messages with attachments
      * Richtext/HTML composing
      * Spell checking

      (the other things are all 'optional' bonus features by my watch), but if you were to deploy it in a

  • Argh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:40PM (#13562012)
    I hope this new interface is optional. Part of the reason I've been using Yahoo Mail for so long was BECAUSE of its very simple and straightforward interface. Taking that away removes yet another reason to stay with them instead of finally letting go.
    • Re:Argh. (Score:2, Informative)

      by tonyquan ( 758115 )
      yes, the new interface is optional and you can switch back and forth between old and new.
    • by brianerst ( 549609 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:46PM (#13562072) Homepage
      According to this [] article, the new interface is optional. You can actually switch between the two interfaces.
    • Re:Argh. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by superspaz ( 902023 )
      At a glance, it doesn't seem to innovate, just cherrypicks features of other mail clients. Truthfully it looks like a cross between msn and outlook with a search my messages box.
    • Re:Argh. (Score:2, Funny)

      by mike.newton ( 67123 )
      I hope this new interface is optional. Part of the reason I've been using Yahoo Mail for so long was BECAUSE of its very simple and straightforward interface. Taking that away removes yet another reason to stay with them instead of finally letting go.

      I agree. If only they'd made it with that new 'AJAX' technology instead of DHTML...
  • Invite (Score:5, Funny)

    by karvind ( 833059 ) <karvind AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:40PM (#13562017) Journal
    Does anyone have invites ? :)
  • by Catamaran ( 106796 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:42PM (#13562030)
    I might switch back to yahoo from gmail if they ever allow me to log in encrypted and remain encrypted (I know that I can log in via https, but after that the connection reverts to unencrypted).
  • by Brigadier ( 12956 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:42PM (#13562033)

    I'm guessing this is Yahoo's answer to gmail. If so where is my 2Gig mail box.

    To be honest I think simplicity is paramount there is a reason I don't use outlook. I've found the gmail interface to be almost perfect for my personal back and forth e-mail.
  • Beta-test is US only (Score:5, Informative)

    by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:44PM (#13562048)
    Yahoo is also taking signups on their what's new for Mail page.

    Unfortunately for a great number of people (including me) who don't live in America, the page states 'The beta version is only available to Yahoo! Mail users in the U.S.'.

  • by gdav ( 2540 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:44PM (#13562054)
    Or, for that matter, for my data.

    Why do any webmail services still use unencrypted http? I'd be quite glad to see nothing but https on any services that I log in to.
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @08:04PM (#13562218)

      Why do any webmail services still use unencrypted http?

      Have you forgotten that typical emails will pass between a number of hosts unencrypted as it is being delivered? Where's the advantage in encrypting the last leg of the journey if none of the others are encrypted?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @10:59PM (#13563290)
        because during the last leg of the journey is when people who know you personally are likely to interfere. for example, the network admin at your job may find out that you have been quitely trying to sue the corp, and your vulnerabilities were discussed with the lawyer over personal email. now, any other admin spying wouldnt care except for the fact that this is YOUR admin at your job.
    • Because your mail is still unencrypted on their disk and when travelling between servers.

      If you want confidentiality, authentication, and non-repudiation, use GPG and a host based email client. If you want a throw away account for signing up to web forums and personals sites, use webmail services.

      (But I think they should be using TLS for the login stage of webmail services)
    • by dragonman97 ( 185927 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @08:27PM (#13562368)
      Actually, I read a bunch of the YoSucker( source code awhile ago, and as far as I could tell, Yahoo! apparently did Javascript hashing (~MD5) of your password before sending it over HTTP, with some kind of session negotiation/salt done before the form submission page. I thought that was pretty damn cool. Personally, I always hit "Shift-tab, 'sec [enter]" in Firefox before ever logging into Yahoo! mail, but I think you stand a bit more of a chance with security on their site than others.
  • by Serveert ( 102805 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:47PM (#13562075)
    in order to read your 14 character "buy viagra now" spam message.

    Get in line, folks.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This new company called Zimbra launched a few days ago a web-based email application that looks very similar to Yahoo's new mail service.

    I guess it sucks to be them (Zimbra) now. They thought they created a very innovative email app.

    Some screenshots: []
    • Zimbra's UI is sluggish on a slow computer. Yahoo Mail won't make that mistake.
    • Zimbra is much more than just mail client. To quote a SitePoint [] mailing list,

      "Billed as an online collaboration server with an AJAX-powered Web client, Zimbra will run on a Linux server and behave as a dedicated email, calendar, and directory server (in fact, it has Postfix, an open source email server, built in), accessible with desktop email, calendar, and address book applications like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird/Sunbird, Apple Mail/iCal, and others.

      "But Zimbra also provides an enhanced Web in
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
    Where are the ads? This is Yahoo and they need to generate revenue. I don't like Yahoo mail because of all the ads in the current incarnation. I think this is probably a bit deceptive. There's gotta be ads in there somewhere, lots of them.
    • There's gotta be ads in there somewhere, lots of them.

      If it makes you feel better, I'm sure there will be "Do You Yahoo?" advertising footer on every piece of outgoing piece of mail ... the same kind of footer the rest of us need to go out of our way to strip out when receiving mail from folks insisting on using web-based email.
  • I just hope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blue_adept ( 40915 )
    I just hope that it still works if you turn off your javacript!! IE I hope they still serve a non-DHTML version for old browsers and/or custom crawlers/userAgents.
  • Mirrordot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aembleton ( 324527 )
    Mirrordot have cached the screenshots: 24780af814f/index.html []
  • Coral link (Score:4, Informative)

    by fejikso ( 567395 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:52PM (#13562125) Homepage
    The server is beginning to be sluggish...

    Try the snappy Coral link: l-beta-impressions/ []
  • by TwoTailedFox ( 894904 ) <> on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:52PM (#13562126) Journal
    Sometimes, aiming to make a UI *too* feature-intensive, can be it's undoing.

    Take Gmail. It's clear, concise, and uses Basic HTML to navigate. Frankly, DHTML is just the web-equivalent of "Feature Bloat". Fine, it looks good, and it'll dazzle the users, but it may also overwhelm them, too.

    I saw DHTML in practice when Barryworld still existed. The DHTML interface was so slow, and so horrible (Even on a 4MB Line, with Dell Optiplexes), I went back to POP3. I'm hoping Yahoo won't make the same mistakes, and at least offer a more "Streamlined" approach for the users that don't care about bells and whistles.
    • Take Gmail. It's clear, concise, and uses Basic HTML to navigate.

      The special version provided for older browsers does. But normal GMail certainly doesn't. It's really frustrating to try and open links in new windows only to find that they aren't links at all but some kind of pseudo-link created with spans and onclicks that doesn't work properly.

      Google really don't have a clue when it comes to Javascript. Yeah, they come up with good features, but their implementation sucks. For example, it took []

  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:55PM (#13562147) Homepage Journal
    It's too bad that I've been phasing out my Yahoo email account. Anyone know of an opensource webmail package that is even close to this interface? Squirrelmail is looking a little shabby in comparison.

    PS. Screenshots are /.'ed. Try mirrordot or coral cache []
  • by jvj24601 ( 178471 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @07:56PM (#13562152)
    I use Yahoo for nearly everything (all family events in Calendar, saved Maps for soccer fields and restaurants, Weather, and Contacts/ToDo), but I switched to Gmail for email as soon as I could.

    I am so reliant on Labels - it just makes so much sense that any email can really be in more than one folder. (In fact, since being forced to use Outlook 2003 at work, I've forgone folders and used it’s Category feature which work remarkable similar to Gmail Labels to organize my work email - I can use Outlook's search to organize/search by Category).

    If Yahoo Mail were to offer anything like Labels, I’d switch back.
  • Compatibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pwnage ( 856708 )
    How come none of you goofballs has asked the important question yet: does this new interface work with standards-compliant browsers, or is this just more crap that will require Internet Explorer?
  • Anyone know of any webmail services that allow GPG?
  • Here []
  • by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @08:23PM (#13562340)
    Yahoo bought out oddpost in 2004. If you'll remember, they were the first to put together a really slick DHTML-based email application. What you see here is a result of merging the technology Ethan and Ian had developed with Yahoo's infrastructure (plus a great deal more - tabs and other features that aren't part of oddpost). Glad to see a little dotrebound company like Oddpost make a mark!
  • I am a CS person, and know very little about Web design, so this post may be somewhat unknowlegable. But I remember back 3 years ago doing some stuff w/ DHTML for a class. It seemed quick, simple, useful, yet DHTML was something I hardly ever saw (and still hardly every see) anywhere. Although not as flashy as flash-based interfaces (no pun intended), it seemed to work well on even fairly weak systems. Does this still hold true nowadays with so many web pages going with flash that sometimes maxes out my
    • DHTML (as in using JavaScript to manipulate page elements) is usually much slower than even Flash (and anybody who's read my comment history knows that I hate Flash with a passion). JavaScript is a simplistic language that usually doesn't have a "nice" way of doing things. When you're using DHTML and having to deal with both JavaScript slowness and the browser having to move around styled HTML elements, it can get pretty hairy. Google uses DHTML for, well, almost everything, and even their extremely nice co
    • IMHO, it's because browser support sucks with all bleeding edge web "standards". It's not so much that modern browsers (e.g. Firefox 1.0+, IE6+) are a problem, but the fact that old web browsers (e.g. NS4, IE4) take years to die off from "common" useage. I still see a few "version 4" browsers show up in my web server logs... but the numbers are small enough now that in most cases, I don't really care if my site works for them or not.
  • Yahoo! acquired Oddpost -ages- ago. Oddpost had THE badass webbased frontend for their mail, and not only that, had built a javascript toolkit like no other of the time to implement it.

    I haven't seen anything out of Yahoo! that indicated they were using that toolkit _anywhere_ much less in their mail
  • GMail started allowing that a few weeks ago. AFAIK, its the only free email service that gives you that ability. For me, its a very significant feature. It suddenly allows me to use GMail as a general purpose email client.
  • There's almost certainly a feature that forwards politically incriminating emails [] to the Chinese authorities.

    F*ck Yahoo.
  • by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @09:27PM (#13562726) Homepage
    Something I just blogged about (mostly just to make sure I didn't forget it!) was an idea for autoconverting docs via a mail system.

    Yahoo Mail already seems to do a bit of converting some MS Office docs into HTML for viewing in your browser. What I'm talking about is the next step: autoconvert between openoffice and ms office.

    I send someone an .SXW or .ODT file via Yahoo Mail. Y! converts the file int a .DOC file, then sends it to the recipient. They edit, send back, and it automatically converts it back to a .SXW or .ODT file (whatever my preference is).

    I know there would be a lot of bugs and things that wouldn't work right to start with, but leave it in beta for awhile (perhaps gmail should offer this then?). However, I think the long term good could outweigh the short term drawbacks. Yes, there's a privacy concern, but if you're really that concerned about the docs you shouldn't be using public mail systems in the first place, right?
  • Get back to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spetiam ( 671180 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @10:11PM (#13562996) Journal
    ...when they offer pop3 or imap + smtp.
  • My girlfriend and I use it constantly to make lists and keep notes.

    They better not be phasing it out. I'm a paying subscriber and would drop the service for certain.

    What would be even better would be if you could have shared notepads. We've wanted that feature for a LONG time.

  • Are they just rolling this out to users at random? I'm a paid subscriber (Plus user) and I didn't get the change...I even signed up on their Mail Beta user tester page. You would think paying customers would get all the new toys first.
  • by tji ( 74570 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2005 @11:04PM (#13563316)
    One of the things I dislike the most about Yahoo! Mail is their login process..

    1. It defaults to clear http, not https. Nice way to encourage users to expose their passwords... This should obviously default to https, and require users to jump through hoops to send their password in the clear. (GMail uses https for authentication).

    2. Authentication only lasts a day, then your session expires and you have to re-authenticate. For me, the expiration usually happened when I was typing a long reply to an e-mail, and clicked "send" only to be greeted with the error message saying I needed to authenticate again (in the clear), and my message was lost.

    This combination is particularly briliant... encourage insecure authentication, then require users to do it often.

    This is just one of many ways that GMail beats Yahoo! Mail.. I'll check out the improvements, but I doubt I'll ever go back to Yahoo.
  • You will probably be wary if Yahoo emulates Google with regard to indexing emails, indefinitely.

    Just another level of privacy lost due to information era.

    Time to move on to another webmail platform.
  • POP3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by furrywithwings ( 851094 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:49AM (#13564432)
    When is Yahoo going to get their head out of their ass and offer POP3 access? Google offers a superior service, more space, and Pop3. And yahoo mail is NOT worth the $19 a year just to get the same features as google. Sorry Yahoo, not news worthy! Thanks for playing though.
  • by adrianmonk ( 890071 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @04:16AM (#13564509)

    I use my Yahoo! Mail that I've had since about 1998 on a daily basis, and I really only want one new feature: I want to be able to move to the next message in the list in well under a second.

    Preferably, now that I am sitting at a computer with a 1.25 MHz PowerPC processor and 1 GB of RAM, I'd like to be able to do this as fast as I used to be able to do on a SPARCstation 2 (which had a 40 MHz processor) equipped with a whopping 64 MB of RAM. Ten years ago, on that computer that was 1.5 orders of magnitude slower than the one I'm using now, I could go to the next message in about 0.1 seconds.

    Yes, I realize there are web servers and things (like the open Internet) involved here, but it should still be do-able. If need be, they could easily prefetch and cache messages in the browser's memory, so that when I hit the "next" button, it goes there right away. And I don't mind if unusually large messages don't load that quickly.

    It would also be nice to be able to jump from mailbox index to message body and back in a fraction of a second and vice versa, while I'm asking for things.

  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @07:48AM (#13565182)
    This all sounds nice, I will enjoy it, but what I really want from web mail, google's usenet, mozilla's news client and the people who make web board software is better filtering.

    Yahoo ( the paid version ) has good anti-spam features, but I could get so much more out of them if their plain old filters were more flexible/ powerful.

    With the exception of slashdot, most web based forums suffer from either too much control or too little control. The site owners do not want to play umpire, hear complaints, etc and I can't blame them. The time has come for 100% ( note the 100% ) user controlled content.

    By this I mean giving the user the ability to make it as if a regular objectionable poster never existed in the forum. Making his/her original posts vanish, along with all replys to his/her post and any mention of him/her.

    The org that comes out with this first ( proprietary or open source ) will be able to very visibly set their software apart from all other similar software. The forum owner who implements such software will have a hook for drawing in members, his/her board will not just be another board among many boards for that same subject.

    People really want this.

    Google seems to be hesitant about these kind of filters. The mozilla mail client will take the entire thread/tree of posts out, they know it is a bug, but nobody seems motivated to fix it.

    Yahoo can give their email filters much more flexibility and power, but they do not.

    I'm guessing filters are a lot of work, that is why these various groups have been slow to do it.

    It seems like what people want the most, more control in getting rid of the crap they don't want.
  • FTFA (Score:3, Funny)

    by guitaristx ( 791223 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @09:58AM (#13565964) Journal
    Yahoo's test audience also will use a computer mouse to "drag and drop" ....

    No wonder it's been so tricky! I've been using live rodents to drag-and-drop for a decade now.... If only I'd used a "computer" mouse....

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre