Google’s Gmail – a Different Sort of Email

Google brilliantly figured out email is the way to go. Not only that, they went above and beyond the call of duty by presenting everyone with 2249 MB – 2 GB – of space. It was much better than Yahoo’s email of only 4 MB of free space and Hotmail who only was giving away a measly 2 MB of email space.

To keep up with demand, Yahoo and Hotmail both now provide more space, Hotmail giving you more space only after being with them for some time and Yahoo’s is instantly, except Yahoo only offers one GB (One Gigabyte) of space.

But was Google’s idea of email too strange for an average user?

After a few months of using Gmail, Google’s email service, it’s quickly apparent it is not your ordinary email box.

For example, the only way to actually get into Gmail was by invitation only. Albeit, this service is still considered beta, but the project has been going on quite a while, since early 2004. In the beginning, those coveted invitations were actually being sold, the average being $50 per invitation. I really don’t blame anyone trying to sell them, the people actually buying one is whom I really wonder about. It’s free email. They couldn’t wait for someone to send them an invitation by asking nicely?

Quickly catching on, Google stated they would begin closing accounts from anyone attempting to sell invitations. After a while, everyone seemed to stop. Then swapping for little things begun and eventually, people began simply giving them away, to anyone who might want one.

I myself have given away over 50, with 50 invitations still left to give. It would seem that even after a year of being online, Gmail still likes their ‘invitation only’ policy. I think it would be ridiculous to ask someone, who might be new to the Internet, to go out and find someone and ask for a Gmail account. But then, maybe that is how Gmail has become so infamous online.

Once you do happen to get an invitation, the sign up was fairly simple and easy to use.

Initially, it all looks really good. No more banner ads! Yahoo and Hotmail should take notes. A few text ads are fine with me, I don’t expect free email without getting some sort of advertising in return. Best of all, it’s Google’s own relevant ads. Ads that read your email? It reads the contents and then spurts out a couple of ads the computer thinks is related to your reading subject matter. This might be something paranoid users might consider spyware, but I think it works very well.

The problem really comes after a few months of using the email, and realizing you’ve got at least 2000 emails sitting in a great big lump, and one of them has that password to eBay you meant to remember, but simply couldn’t. Doing a search is fine for something like that I guess, but what if you are looking for an email from someone you can’t remember, or for a website you’ve not visited in three months?

You can sort through Gmail, though they do boast you never have to throw anything away because there is just so much space. You can put labels on any email, sort of like putting them into folders except that the emails all stay in the same inbox. You can simply click on any labeled category and Gmail searches and locates those particular emails quickly. So you will always have 2000 emails in your mailbox, if you don’t throw any of them away.

You can star any emails that are really important. Finding emails that are starred are easy, except when you’ve starred nearly a forth of all your emails. Starring emails actually does make it easier if you limit it and label the rest. But it still leaves a large clump of emails in your inbox.

The confusion really sets in when you get new email from people who have emailed you before. It’s sort of like having a folder for each email. Gmail keeps all emails coming from an email and sent to an email in one place. It does save time by combining every email you write to Bob, and keeps your letters in place too so you can check back in the conversation to see what Bob wrote before. The whole conversation gets dragged back up to the top when the person writes back. It’s a unique feature, and anyone who is used to Yahoo or Hotmail might have to take a short eon to get used to this.

Still, it’s not a bad deal. So much space, so many angles and ways to organize. Gmail even lets you use your Microsoft Outlook program to collect your email. If you are used to folders and your own method of storage, Gmail’s Help link can show you exactly how to set up your Outlook program to accept your Gmail emails.

If you’ve been using Yahoo and Hotmail for years, it’ll be a different experience switching to Gmail. If you do happen along an invitation, trying it out may prove confusing until you figure out the new way to sort files. In the end, it’s not a bad addition to Google’s array of services. Hopefully, it’ll be out of beta testing soon so anyone who wants one can have a Gmail account of their own.

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