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Thoughts on Gmail

October 5, 2004

I got a Gmail account at Gnomdex (now that’s a geeky introductory sentence!). It has been fun to send out sarcastic e-mails to friends – “I am part of the technology elite, and you are not.” Overall it is not what I expected.

On the positive side – it is lightening fast. They must cache the entire service in memory. It’s the first web mail that rivals POP/IMAP for usability. Supposedly Gmail will generate an Atom Feed, which would be a great feature (reading RSS would be nice too). My account does not have a UI related to Feeds. I tried an auto-discovery at the Inbox screen. NewsGator asked for username and password, but then failed to find a feed.

On the negative side, I have used it for 24 hours and it has been unavailable twice already. In addition, whatever scripting tricks they are using for persistence has crashed all open browser windows (yeah, IE) three times. Seems odd for a company known for its technical acumen. Finally, I find the “conversations” part of the UI confusing.

Anyway if Steve Gillmor is right that this is the first step in Google taking over Office, then Microsoft can milk that cow for many years to come.

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