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February 20, 2008

Gmail 2.0 and User Happiness


When Gmail released an update to its code base in October 2007, many people complained that it loads very slow and it's buggy. Since the new version was initially released only for the US interface, I suggested to go back to the older version by changing the language to British English. This will no longer work since Gmail will soon be released internationally. Meanwhile, I noticed that Gmail 2.0 loads much faster and it's almost as reliable as the previous version.

Some people are still having problems with Gmail 2.0. Geemo complains at Gmail's discussion group: "it usually takes several attempts to even get my mailbox to load and when it does load the mail links sometimes are unclickable. This is supposed to be an improvement!? Also, I always have to switch to Older Version EVERY TIME I need to send an email in order to get the address book auto-fill to work (It comes up in New Version but none of the address suggestion can actually be selected). (...) Is there a way to set my account to only work in the "older" setting? Or should I just move back to Yahoo? "

I enjoyed the reply to this post:
I share your feelings, and wish I could offer you more than just plain sympathy. Till February 13, we could suggest to users (and personally, I did) how to remain with the "old interface", forgoing only the pleasure of coloured labels and the pain of twenty acknowledged but unresolved issues, besides many more unacknowledged, random, quirky, and unresolved ones ... cf. these Groups.

However, from February 13 as he says, the happy Robby Stein, Associate Product Marketing Manager, has put paid to our escapist timidity in not venturing boldly out to embrace the "new interface" by rolling it out to everyone ... except to the Croatian, Icelandic, Hebrew, and Arabic speaking people, the only ones who -- in my opinion -- are truly blessed for now for not being rolled under or over by this "new interface".

I should not comment on whether you should move back to Yahoo! But with indications that either Microsoft or AOL or any other equally diabolical entity picking up Yahoo!, I would feel that learning Croatian, Icelandic, Hebrew, or Arabic may prove to be a smarter thing to do.

The migration to Gmail 2.0 is inevitable, assuming you use a supported browser, but it's not clear if this upgrade is perceived as an improvement. Unlike desktop applications, web apps can suddenly update to a new version you don't like and you can't remove.

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