Meeting of the email chiefs Matt 03 Jan 2006

19 comments Latest by babie teka

The guys behind the email apps at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo got together for dinner the other week with the Wall Street Journal’s Lee Gomes. Everyone played nice (‘tis the season after all) and even the Yahoo and Microsoft programmers admitted that Gmail was a thunderbolt that woke up the space. Gmail guru Paul Buchheit said, “We were trying to make the email experience better for our users. We ended up making it better for yours, too.”

Gomes asked each to say what in his product he was most proud of:

Mr. Diamond noted that in Yahoo’s mail program, users can see their entire inbox in a single screen, rather than having to page through it screenload after screenload. It was a hard feature to add, he said. The other two men nodded their heads in agreement; neither has yet matched it.

Mr. Buchheit said what he most liked about Gmail is the ease and fluidity with which it lets him work with his messages.

Mr. Doerr noted the powerful desktop-like features of his Microsoft product, such as the on-the-fly spell checking of messages as they are typed.

The men reported similar pressures: cranky users of Web browsers with tiny market shares demanding that their browsers be supported, while not appreciating how much work is involved. And the struggle to find a way to innovate with a product — but not so much that existing customers will be alienated.

19 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Jeff Croft 03 Jan 06

It’s awesome that they got together. All three are doing good things, and some exchange between them can only be good for users.

As for the cranky small-market browser users: I do appreciate the work involved, and I won’t complain if an app doesn’t support old or very fringe browsers. But, any modern app ought to be able to support the latest versions of IE, Gecko (Firefox), WebKit (Safari), and probably Opera, too. As long as by “small marketshare browsers” they don’t mean “Mac users using Safari,” then I’m okay with it. :)

Rob L. 03 Jan 06

Yeah, what Croft said.

Kyle 03 Jan 06

Anyone have a sceenshot of this Yahoo! single page inbox thing?

Doesn’t seem hard to me, so I must not be appreciating the “coolness” of it.

Gstfssn 03 Jan 06

Some people use things that is not supported by other browsers. For example, Microsoft has got some special things in IE (i.e. “filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Shadow”). Does any other browser have similar stuff that is not supported by other browsers?

Chris 03 Jan 06

Mozilla browsers have the “moz-” extentions.

Safari has a couple little things that degrade nicely like “input=’search’”. Oh, and safari can do drop shadows on text but that’s just part of CSS 3.

Tom 03 Jan 06

Yahoo! Beta email has gone away from the one page inbox. It now looks like Microsoft Outlook - basically a clone of it in a lot of ways. Sure, it looks slick. Now it is slow and buggy. Yes it’s a beta, but I hope it gets a LOT better before they release it.

Tony 03 Jan 06

The single-page inbox isn’t anything that looks spectacular or anything. It’s just like outlook or any other desktop client, only in your browser.

The new Yahoo! Mail beta is slow, and I wish the RSS reader was better (because it is handy), but other than that I like it a lot. The best feature is the tabbed interface — being able to go back to your inbox while composing a message is great.

andrew 03 Jan 06

Have any other Yahoo mail & Safari users noticed the alarmingly frequent crashes lately? Slow response times, beach ball, crash. Bleh.

Chris Johnson 03 Jan 06

I believe I read that Gmail is supported in either Opera or Firefox because the browser makers implemented the necessary functionality, rather than Google writing new code.

Standards are very important here, and it’s the responsibility of the browsers to implement them. The web could become a universal platform, and I think one of the first steps is to eliminate the need for browser checks.

A. Arp 03 Jan 06

“I�m not saying Opera is infallible, because it is…” - Eddie

Was that a Freudian slip? ;)

Eddie 03 Jan 06


Yes, that’s true with Opera. That’s the case I mentioned before with google.. in that case, “feature X” was XMLHttpRequest or something along those lines.

the quote:
“cranky users of Web browsers with tiny market shares demanding that their browsers be supported, while not appreciating how much work is involved.”

..should be changed to either one of these:
“cranky users of Web browsers with tiny market shares demanding that their browsers be supported, while not realizing that it is in fact their browser that does not support the correct feature set”

“cranky users of Web browsers demanding that standards be supported, while not understanding how screwed up and proprietary our code actually is”

Eddie 03 Jan 06

ummm good catch…

“I’m not saying Opera is infallible.”

I’ll just leave it at that then :)

Don Wilson 03 Jan 06

Awesome. Now if only I could figure out how to test Yahoo and Microsoft’s online adaptations.

Jon S 03 Jan 06

Having tried the “big 3” and their latest betas I can say that MS’s is pretty sub-par while Gmail and Yahoo are both looking good.

Yahoo’s client is nice, a bit buggy at the moment but I’m able to scroll 4,000 emails in my inbox very easily. The tabbed interface is also extremely convenient. It still uses folders for storage as opposed to Gmail’s tagging system, which is a downer in my opinion.

Once Yahoo integrates their calendar, contacts and note-taking portions into their nice new ajaxy interface they’ll have a winner.

Rob Mason 04 Jan 06

Google just seem to be able to do what Microsoft can’t: build agile, functional systems, with nice code that will get used.

I wish our Dev team would take a leaf out of Google’s book instead of relying on M$!

Jeff Pamer 04 Jan 06

Something I thought was interesting…The ages of the “email chiefs” are pretty much just as expected. Google being the youngest at 29, Microsoft the oldest at 39, and Yahoo, the middle child, at 34.

Swati 04 Jan 06

teeeheeee on what Jeff said :p

babie teka 06 Jan 06

hello thank you for you respect