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Gmail
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Gmail

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia


Gmail is a free webmail and POP email service, currently in beta testing, from Google, Inc. It is known as Google Mail in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Gmail

Since Gmail is still in "beta" (having been initially released on April 1, 2004) access to the service is restricted to those who had received an invitation from an existing account holder, from Blogger, or through their mobile phone. Some believe Gmail will continue to be invitation-only even after the beta phase in order to reduce the risk of spam.

While Gmail is not entirely open to the general public yet, most Gmail users have many invites to spare, as Google gives most users one hundred free invitations (and frequently replenishes them, as a reward for users who frequently check their Gmail accounts). Gmail invites are also given away at random through Google's home page, and it is also possible to sign up if one has a U.S. (currently, it also included Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, New Zealand and Phillipines)SMS Signup mobile phone (see Beta testing phase) or a .edu email address from an accredited U.S. institution. One can find free Gmail invites at various Web sites, such as the ones shown under External links or even for sale at online auctions. However, Google has prohibited the sale of Gmail addresses.

The service is notable for providing over 2.6 (and counting) gigabytes (as of Dec. 24th 2005) of storage space (increased from the original limit of 1.0 gigabyte). This change was announced on April Fool's Day 2005, and was made for the one-year anniversary of Gmail. The announcement was accompanied by a statement that Google would continue to increase storage until they reached the theoretical limit (infinity gigabytes) then give each user one more. All Google will say about this now is that it will keep increasing by the second as long as they have enough space on their servers. Gmail makes intensive use of modern browser features such as JavaScript and keyboard access keys, allowing for a richer user experience, while retaining the benefits of a web application (most importantly, immediate availability of the service on any computer with a supported browser). Gmail also offers "Basic HTML view" to allow users to access the Gmail messages from almost any computer running almost any web browser, even old ones (not just Internet Explorer 5.5+, Opera, Mozilla Application Suite, and Safari).

Recently there has been some criticism about Gmail's information and privacy policies. Much of it stems from phrases in Gmail's Privacy Policy which state that Gmail will keep all email for "some time" even if it has been deleted or the account terminated and that Gmail will disclose personal information (including the actual text of emails) if it has a "good faith belief" that such a disclosure is necessary for various reasons such as the very vague "protect the rights, property or safety of ... the public."

Another unresolved issue discussed amongst privacy advocates is the lack of disclosed data retention and correlation policies. More than 30 privacy and civil rights organizations have urged Google to suspend Gmail service until these issues are resolved .

Gmail inbox
Gmail inbox
The main inbox view, as rendered by the Mozilla Firefox browser in the Xandros Linux operating system. The Gmail Notifier extension for Firefox shows when a new message is received or unread. Rather than showing individual emails, Gmail groups emails into threads, with the number of messages in each indicated in parenthesis. In this image, the second message from the top is shown with a white background and bolded text, indicating that it includes an unread message.

Features

Gmail includes a number of original features as well as improvements upon those standard to web mail services.

Conversation views

The main innovation of Gmail is its method of categorizing e-mails, which Google calls Conversation View. In contrast to other e-mail services, Gmail keeps track of individual "conversations" (an original message, along with all the replies to that message), and allows users to view easily all the e-mails related to a specific message. Gmail's algorithm for determining how conversations fit together is not perfect, however: Single conversations sometimes become fragmented (especially when a replier changes the e-mail's subject line) and unrelated conversations occasionally become attached together. Conversations split into two separate storage sections if there are more than 150 messages, sometimes resulting in 5 or 6 chunks making up a whole conversation. Another drawback was that the entire conversation gets deleted if the user deleted one single email which was a part of that conversation, but this was fixed when a "Trash This Message" button was added.

Thread view
Thread view
A number of messages in the same email thread are shown. The user can expand and unexpand any message (quickly, using only client-side JavaScript functionality) to view the content of any number of emails simultaneously

Filtering

Filters can be run only on incoming mail by using an interface similar to the Search Options dialog (see searching below). Gmail allows users to filter messages by their text; their From, To, and Subject fields; and by whether or not the message has an attachment. Gmail can perform any combination of the following actions upon a message that meets a label's criteria: Archiving (i.e. removing the message from the Inbox), marking as "starred", applying a label, moving to the trash, and forwarding to another email address.

Two gigabytes of storage

Beginning on April 1, 2005 (Gmail's first birthday), Gmail started to offer 2 gigabytes of email storage space, which is increasing steadily ever after. This figure and the original offering of 1000 megabytes are hundreds of times more than what other webmail services offered at the time of Gmail's original announcement in 2004. Google suggests that users "archive", rather than delete their messages; Gmail's more than 2 gigabyte of storage is sufficient to hold many years' worth of an average user's e-mails, and Gmail's search technology allows users to search their archives easily. Additionally, users can store files (up to 10 megabytes in size) as e-mail attachments.

Current storage limit — As of December 28th, 2005, the maximum storage capacity has already exceeded 2.678801675 GB.

Originally, the rate of increase was one megabyte every 7.44 hours (or 7 hours, 26 minutes and 24 seconds). This means that the storage space increases approximately 134.4 kilobytes each hour. Recently, however, the rate of increase has slowed down considerably - it seems that the rate of increase is now only between 13 and 14 kB per hour.

Auto Save Enhancement

Gmail has added a system of Auto Save, a system for avoiding loss of data in case of a browser crash or other error. This feature automatically saves a "draft" copy of the current message once per minute.

Contacts

Gmail automatically saves one's contacts as one sends e-mail. If one changes, adds, or removes information near an e-mail such as the name while sending any e-mail, it also updates that in one's contact list.

When one starts typing in the To (or CC or BCC) field it brings up a list with one's relevant contacts. Experience has shown that this "little Google search" on one's contacts is not too smart and it is made only to work with the two main fields of each contact and it is still restricted to Name and Primary Email. But it does provide a good and easy interface.

Even because of the auto-completion feature, the auto saving creates a contact for each e-mail instead of trying to guess which e-mail should be together and which should be a different contact. That can raise one's contact list and make it chunky if one keeps more than one e-mail per person. One can also go to one's Contacts and add more information as one wishes. They are all basically just for one's note only.

It is possible to import contacts in several different ways, from Outlook, Eudora, Hotmail, Yahoo!, orkut, and any other contact list capable of being exported as a CSV file. It does allow one to export one's contacts to CSV as well.

It is also possible to group contacts in a similar way as e-mails are labeled.

Interface

The user is composing a new email, and has invoked the client-side spell checker feature. Like the spell checker in a word processor, the user is shown words which are not recognized, and can either pick a replacement from a list or manually enter an alteration. In addition, Gmail's spell checker has limited non-English language support; it can detect one's message's language and spell-check in that language. Some ideograph-based languages like Chinese are not supported.

Gmail's interface relies heavily upon JavaScript, a client-side scripting programming language, which requests data from the Gmail servers via XMLHttpRequest, an example of the web-development technique which some referred to as Ajax. Since much processing takes place on the user's computer, relatively little information must be transferred between Gmail's web servers and the client, so the interface should run quickly, even over a dial-up connection.

In late February 2005, Google rolled out a "basic HTML view" Gmail interface, accessible from any HTTP 1.1-compliant web browser (previously, Gmail was only accessible via a few modern browsers in "standard view"). The HTML interface does not use JavaScript, and is much slower than the standard interface.

Compose view, with spell checker
Compose view, with spell checker
The user is composing a new email, and has invoked the client-side spell checker feature. Like the spell checker in a word processor, the user is shown words which are not recognized, and can either pick a replacement from a list or manually enter an alteration. In addition, Gmail's spell checker has limited non-English language support; it can detect one's message's language and spell-check in that language. Some ideograph-based languages like Chinese are not supported.

Keyboard shortcuts

Gmail allows users to navigate its interface by using the keyboard as an alternative to the mouse, which is the norm for site navigation. This feature is not enabled by default, although instructions on how to enable it are provided.

Labels instead of folders

Gmail allows users to categorize their e-mails with "labels." Labels give users a flexible method of categorizing e-mails, since an e-mail may have any number of labels (in contrast to a system in which an e-mail may belong to only one folder). Users can display all e-mails having a particular label and can use labels as a search criterion. Gmail also allows users to set up filters which label incoming e-mail automatically.

Users can simulate the functionality of folder-based filtering by applying labels and archiving mail as it arrives.

Searching

Gmail allows users to search by a number of criteria:

  • whether the message "has" or "does not have" a certain phrase
  • the message's From, To, and Subject fields
  • the message's location (All Mail, Inbox, Starred, Sent Mail, Spam, Trash, All & Spam & Trash, Read Mail, Unread Mail, or a label)
  • whether the message has an attachment
  • the message's date within a given range (e.g. all messages received within one week of January 1, 2004)

Gmail also allows users to construct advanced search strings. For example, the following search strings would search for all e-mails from Bob to anyone with the subject field containing "work" or "school" but not "close friend", labeled as "to do" or "pending" among all that are not in "Inbox" (which means it is archived), with a PDF attachment, and with a carbon copy to self, limited to the date range between May 1, 2004 and June 1, 2004, that are not starred:

from:bob subject: (work OR school -{close friend}) (label:(-inbox) in:to-do OR label:pending) has:attachment filename:pdf in:unstarred cc:self after:2004/05/01 before:2004/06/01
from:bob subject: (work OR school -{close friend}) (label:to-do OR in:(pending)) -(in:inbox) has:attachment filename:pdf in:unstarred cc:self after:2004-05-01 before:2004-06-01
(Note that logical operators (e.g. OR, AND) must be in upper-case)
(Also note that field operators cannot contain blank values ([buggy] unless it is the operator in the string))
([buggy] Using labels that contains space(s) within the label will only work with that label alone, probably due to the "labels hyphenation")
([buggy] Excluding Inbox from searches seems to not work properly)

See also: How do I use Gmail's advanced search?

Spam filtering

Gmail offers a spam filtering system. Independent tests conducted in May 2004 showed this spam filter to be about 60% accurate for a wide variety of spam, significantly lower than the spam filtering accuracy of Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. In December 2004, however, unscientific tests suggested that Gmail's accuracy was much higher than it was in May. Messages marked as spam are automatically deleted after 30 days.

Gmail's spambox
Gmail's spambox

Email signing

Gmail is the first major provider to sign outgoing mails with Yahoo!'s DomainKeys signatures.

POP3 access

Although not offered with the original release, Gmail allows all users to send and receive their e-mail via POP3 (over SSL) and SMTP. Some users have experienced authentication difficulties when trying to gain access to their accounts and have blamed Google for the problem, however the authentication problem is likely due to the user needing to activate a setting within Gmail before it will allow POP access, not because Gmail has a technical problem. However, some users continue to experience authentication problems in spite of the activation of this setting.

Rich Text Formatting

A feature added to Gmail on its first birthday, Rich Text Formatting, allows users to set the size, font, color, and alignment of text, create bullet points and numbered lists, in addition to several other features. With Rich Text Formatting enabled, messages to which one replies and forwards retain all embedded formatting, whereas Plain Text editing strips out all formatting including embedded graphics.

Rich Text Formatting is currently only able to work on browsers that support WYSIWYG, such as Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. Browsers that do not support WYSIWYG editing cannot take advantage of this feature.

Username handling

Gmail usernames must be between 6 and 30 characters (inclusive) and made up of only letters, numbers, and periods (.). Experimentation has shown that Gmail ignores periods when resolving addresses. That is, the account google@gmail.com receives mail sent to goo.gle@gmail.com, g.o.o.g.l.e@gmail.com, etc. Likewise, the account goo.gle@gmail.com receives mail from google@gmail.com. However, when signing in it is necessary to include periods.

Gmail blocks users from creating addresses that vary by periods only. Consider two different people with the addresses john.doe@gmail.com and johndoe@gmail.com, who will each receive all emails intended for either one of the accounts.

Plus-addressing

Gmail also supports "plus-addressing" of emails. Messages can be sent to addresses in the form: gmail.user+extratext@gmail.com where extratext can be any string. Plus-addressing allows users to sign up for different services with different aliases and then easily filter all e-mails from those services. It does not appear, however, that the +string feature works when sending email from a Gmail account to itself. Additionally (in some cases) the string appended to the e-mail address may not be longer than six characters.

Gmail Notifier

The Gmail Notifier, an official tool offered by Google, displays a small icon in the notification area (see Taskbar) in Microsoft Windows and on the right-hand side of the menu bar in Mac OS X, indicating the presence of new mail in one's inbox. It also has a feature that makes Gmail the default mail client for mailto links. It does not, however, download new messages.

On Windows, the Gmail Notifier is uninstalled (after a prompt to the user) if one installs Google Talk, which provides the same features and a new, updated interface.

Available to those who surf with Mozilla Firefox is the identically named Gmail Notifier extension, first appeared around July 8, 2004 , which is more than one month before the official one (August 21, 2004).

Gmail Notifier extension - Up
Gmail Notifier extension

Multi language support

The Gmail interface currently supports 38 languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (UK), English (US), Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Gmail supports 38 languages. Here, its interface is shown in Japanese
Gmail supports 38 languages. Here, its interface is shown in Japanese.

RSS feeds

After its one-year anniversary, Gmail started placing customizable RSS feeds in some interfaces. The RSS feeds are limited to a single line at the top of the page, which can be scrolled through by the user. The option now appears in all accounts as "Web Clips".

Dormant accounts

Every account which is inactive for 9 months gets deactivated by Gmail. All stored messages get deleted and the account gets "recycled", which means the account name can be used by any other users afterwards. Other webmail services, like Yahoo! and Hotmail, have different, sometimes shorter, times for marking an account as inactive.

Anti-virus scanning

Gmail recently introduced a feature which automatically scans all incoming and outgoing email attachments for viruses. If a virus is found on an attachment the reader is trying to open Gmail will try to remove the virus and open the newly cleaned attachment. Gmail also scans all outgoing attachments, and if a virus is found on an outgoing attachment Gmail will prevent the message from being sent until the attachment is removed; this is an innovation that has not been previously seen in other webmail services such as Hotmail or Yahoo. Despite of the newly added anti-virus service, .exe, .zip, .com and a few other files are still blocked. This makes it difficult to use Gmail to send programs to other users. A way users bypass this is to change the file extention to .txt then change it back once the other user has retrieved the file.

Limitations

The conversation view groups related messages in a linear stack, which can be expanded and collapsed. While this does provide an innovative view of an email thread, it does not provide any way to differentiate messages that branch off from the original thread. This can occur when mail is sent to multiple recipients who respond individually.

Google seems hesitant to release any upcoming plans for the implementation of these features.

Absent Features

The following features are absent from Gmail.

Some are provided by another kind of computer program, such as Eudora, Outlook Express or Apple Mail.

Some are provided by same kind of computer program, webmail applications (sometimes for a price), such as Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail.

Features present in Linux mail programs (such as Kmail) are: automatic spell-checking (by red underline), "attachment warning," and automatic bounce-back of unwanted mail (imitating a mail-daemon message). Gmail may or may not add these in the future.

General

Those are absent features that includes, at least, Organizing and Searching:

  • The ability to fully use Google search technology on Gmail.
  • The ability to fully use Google search technology on Gmail Contacts.
  • The ability to search (or filter) in the whole e-mail, like in the headers.

Organizing

  • The ability to group labels.
  • Some conversation handling features such as adding an e-mail to a conversation and removing one from it.
  • The ability to select "All" e-mails, or "All" contacts, or even apply labels to all selected e-mails, not only the limited amount displayed. (this is in fact a much bigger limitation than it may look like as using both features together can get really troublesome)
  • The ability to use the automatic filter on outgoing messages or messages already received. (although users can use Gmail's advanced search to filter messages already received)
  • The ability to do many actions with the same filter (although the user can always create a lot of filters).

Searching

  • The ability to search within text message attachments.
  • The ability to use Boolean criteria for filters or any kind of searching.
  • The ability to go to the oldest item, or page, of any search / filter / label, whenever the list gets big enough.
  • The ability to choose how many items a search should return per page (the settings / max page size only works for labels).
  • The ability to use same searching syntax with filters.

(E-mail) Protocol Resources

  • The ability to import mail from external POP3 servers into the webmail account.
  • The ability to queue messages to be sent automatically at a future chosen date and time.
  • The ability to send a request for a return receipt with messages.
  • The ability to mark the importance (e.g., "urgent") of a particular message.
  • IMAP support (few webmails do have it, although Fastmail.fm has such a feature).

Others

  • The ability to delete any attachment from a delivered message, be it sent or received.
  • The ability to change signatures along with changing the "From" field.
  • The ability to log in on the same account and mailbox by using Plus-addressing while enabling to customize configurations.
  • An option to add description / information to Report Spam feature.

Differences between Interfaces

It has been noted that changing the interface language between English(UK) and English(US) will affect the overall interface. For example, the UK has different standards for date and time, as well as naming (ie: Trash versus Deleted Items).

While these are simple cosmetic differences, there are several limitations encountered within various language interfaces:

Non-US Interfaces

Because Google is located primarily in the United States, non-US interfaces tend to lag behind in upgrades and features:

  • Use of the Custom From Address feature is disabled. Custom From Address on Gmail Help (2005-11-29)
  • Web Clips (RSS/Atom Feeds) are disabled.
  • Virus scanning feature is unavailable.

US Interface

  • When replying, the display does not show the original message's time, just the date.

Bugs

  • If the text of the subject is too long, labels are overlapped and blocked by tool icons on the right side of the interface.

Development

Gmail was announced amid a flurry of rumor. Owing to April Fool's Day, however, the company's press release was greeted with skepticism in the technology world, especially since Google already had been known to make April Fool's Jokes (such as PigeonRank). However, they explained that their real joke had been a press release saying that they would take offshoring to the extreme by putting employees in a "Google Copernicus Center" on the Moon. Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's vice-president of products, was quoted by BBC News as saying, "We are very serious about Gmail."

Gmail also initially received a lot of criticism for a statement they made in their original terms of use, refusing to guarantee that all e-mails at Gmail would be deleted upon request by the user. Google later clarified that they were referring to backup copies of emails, and promised that all deleted mails would eventually be expunged completely from their servers. This, along with the feature that advertisements would be generated by software-based scanning of e-mails in order to better target them, gave rise to a controversy on web privacy (see BBC News Article and google-watch.org; for a defense see The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus).

Before being acquired by Google, the gmail.com domain name was used by the free email service offered by Garfield.com, online home of the comic strip Garfield. This free email service has moved to e-garfield.com.

As of June 22, 2005, the Gmail IRI has been changed to http://mail.google.com/mail/ instead of http://gmail.google.com/gmail/.

Beta testing phase

Google initially invited about 1,000 employees, friends, and family members to become beta testers, with trials beginning on March 21, 2004. Active users from the Blogger.com community were offered the chance to participate in the beta-testing on April 25, and later, Gmail members occasionally received "invites" which they could extend to their friends. One round of invites was sent out on May 1, and another three invitations were given to all active members on June 1; by mid-June, the number of invitations had increased, with many users receiving between three and five invites daily. On February 2, 2005, the invitation interface was changed to make it easier to give invites by simply entering an email address and at approximately 3:00 UTC on February 3, 2005, some Gmail users were awarded 50 invites, suggesting that Gmail would soon go public. Now, if one attends a Google Mini webinar, one will get a Gmail invitation. Go to http://www.google.com/enterprise/mini/product_tours_demos.html for more information.

During the initial months of the Gmail beta, Gmail's well-publicized feature set and the exclusive nature of the accounts caused the aftermarket price of Gmail invitations to skyrocket. According to PC World magazine, Gmail invitations were selling on eBay for as much as US$150, with some specific accounts being sold for several thousand dollars. After a new round of invitations in early June, the price for invitations fell down to between US$2-$5. Several philanthropic Gmail users have utilized services such as the now defunct GmailSwap to donate invitations to people who want them. On June 28, Google amended its policy to forbid the selling of registered accounts. See the Official Gmail Program Policy.

History

In March 2004, Google said that Gmail would probably be released publicly after six months of testing, which would have placed their launch in September 2004, but it was still in beta as of December 2005. Speculation also regarding the release date is right after The New York Times said they had "credible sources" saying "Gmail will be released publicly by the end of the year." As of present, however, one needs an invitation from an existing user or to sign up via text message using the gmail homepage (www.gmail.com) and a U.S. cellular phone that has SMS capabilities to get an account, and the site still says it is in the beta development stage. The number of invitations existing account holders can send has been varied, presumably to control the usage and growth of the system. For all intents and purposes, Gmail is essentially open to the public now, since thousands of invites are publicly available from many public websites. The use of the invitation/text message system helps prevent spammers from registering numerous accounts for purposes of spamming, and will ensure that any account used illegally will have another valid email address or phone number to trace a user (the one to which the invite was sent).

In January 2005, security experts discovered a critical flaw in the handling of Gmail messages that would allow hackers to easily access private e-mails from any Gmail user's account. This was posted with detailed information to popular technology site Slashdot at 9:23 a.m. PST on January 12, 2005. At roughly 10:15 a.m. PST on January 13, 2005, developers at Gmail announced that they had fixed the problem, and that the security flaw had been patched. Despite Gmail's status as a beta application, this raised concerns among some users who use Gmail as their primary mail account.

On April 1, 2005, exactly one year after the initial release, Gmail increased the mailbox size to 2 GB (advertising it as 2GB plus) and introduced some other new features, including formatted editing (giving users the option of sending messages in HTML or plain text). As of December 2005, the mailbox size is 2.60 GB, and is increasing continuously at a rate of approximately 10 MB per month.

The "New! Get Gmail - Google's free email service with over 2GB of storage." promo that appears for a few days on some computers.

On June 7, 2005, Isnoop.net Gmail Invite Spooler was deactivated by the site moderator, due to intolerance by Google. It was explained that Gmail's Product Manager would no longer tolerate the service, and was shut down midnight PDT. The service was featured in Popular Science magazine, and had given out over 1.2 million gmail accounts.

The "New! Get Gmail
The "New! Get Gmail - Google's free email service with over 2GB of storage." promo that appears for a few days on some computers.

Since July 11, 2005, or more likely earlier, Google has been giving away free Gmail accounts to random people who search for the word "gmail" using the Google search engine. Follow this link and look at the top of the page for the promo that says "New! Get Gmail - Google's free email service with over 2GB of storage." However, this promo may only last a few days for a particular IP address, before it does not show up any more. ^

On August 24, 2005, Google offered a new method of signing up for a Gmail account via mobile phone text messaging. The public would be able to obtain an account by submitting a U.S. mobile phone number to Google, which would then send a text message with an invitation code that would be used to create a Gmail account. Numbers are stored in order to keep track of the number of accounts created which is limited to ten per phone number. This method of creating accounts makes it difficult for spammers to send out spam messages, getting spam delivered, or obtaining an account thus keeping Gmail as spam-free as possible. This method is currently only available to people with a U.S. mobile phone number. See https://www.google.com/accounts/SmsMailSignup1.

This shows the option to choose which address a message appears to be sent from.

On August 30, 2005, Gmail started to add the facility to customise the address that messages are sent from on outgoing mail to some accounts. This adds option for outgoing messages to appear as if they had been sent from an alternative email address, rather than from the Gmail account. Right now, this option is only available for accounts that have set English (US) as Gmail display language. Gmail Help Center., but users can switch to another language and keep using this feature after adding another address.

This shows the option to choose which address a message appears to be sent from
This shows the option to choose which address a message appears to be sent from.

In August 2005, Gmail started offering 100 invites to some users.

In October 2005, Gmail withdrew use of username@gmail.com within the UK, due to a dispute with the UK company Independent International Investment Research (IIIR), who own the gmail.co.uk domain. From October 19th, any new UK users wanting a gmail account were forced to have username@googlemail.com. There is still a concern that old UK users will also have to change to the new domain sometime in the future.

Non-English languages

  • On April 13, 2005, Gmail became available in several languages: British English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and simplified and traditional Chinese.
  • On June 30, 2005, Gmail became available in 4 new languages: Danish, Finnish, Polish, and Swedish.
  • On August 9, 2005, Gmail became available in 12 new languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
  • In the beginning of September 2005, Gmail became available in 9 new languages: Catalan, Czech, Estonian, Hindi, Lithuanian, Romanian, Tagalog, Thai, and Turkish.

"Lockdown in sector 4"

In 2005, some Gmail users began reporting that their accounts were being locked for 24 hours or more. Account home pages were reportedly replaced with the flippant title: "Lockdown in sector 4!" along with a short explanation of the lockdown. Google's explanation was that the accounts in question had conducted "unusual usage," although the users maintain their innocence. Most account lockdowns are lifted after 24-72 hours, although some users report being locked out again not long after , though most of the time the user could clear their cache and reload the page, and the account would become unlocked again. It also may be worth noting that virtually all webmail providers will suspend an account if it is suspected of violating the provider's terms of service.

It is worth noting that many scripts for the Mozilla Firefox extension Greasemonkey have caused this problem as well.

Lockdown in sector 4

Competition

After Gmail's initial announcement and development, many existing web mail services quickly increased their storage capacity. For example, Hotmail went from giving some users 2MB to 25MB (250MB after 30 days), while Yahoo! went from 4MB to 100MB. Yahoo storage upgraded again in late April 2005, to 1GB. These were all seen as moves to stop existing users from switching to Gmail, and to capitalize on the newly rekindled public interest in web mail services. The desire to catch up was especially visible for Microsoft's Hotmail, which upgraded its email storage erratically from 250 MB to the new Windows Live Mail (beta) which includes 2 GB of storage over a number of months. In August 2005, AOL started providing all AIM screen names with their own email accounts with 2 GB of storage.

Name change

The German version of Gmail was first known as Gmail Deutschland. However, the company Giersch Ventures already had the words G-mail trademarked since 2001, and filed a lawsuit against Google for trademark infringement. Gmail is a postal mail service around Hamburg.

On 4 July 2005, Google announced that Gmail Deutschland would be renamed Google Mail and that every German IP would be forwarded to a different server where every new user would be able to obtain an address in the googlemail.com domain. Any German user who now wants a gmail.com address must sign up for an account through a proxy. German users who were already registered were allowed to keep their old gmail.com addresses.

However, also new users in Germany are reachable at gmail.com, the emails are forwarded. If using some Google services like Google analytics or Google alerts the German users still see their gmail address, even if they registered recently at googlemail. As it seems Google does not pay much attention to the German trademark so far, maybe because the Giersch business homepage looks very strange somehow. For example it is difficult to find out what exactly the services of Gmail Germany are, but there are many words about innovative services and there is some Google Adsense advertising on the website. Also, a new service about transforming postal mail into email and being payed for receiving letters, one eurocent for each one, is described, but only offered for a very small area so far. There is talk about Europe-wide expanding anyway. This leads to the question: Will the German trademark Gmail be expanded to an EU trademark ? This still would be possible, for some bigger money sum to be payed to the trademark office. Another question is why Google didn´t check that out in the past. It had been possible for less than 100 Euros.

In practice, there is little difference between the two, as googlemail.com addresses act as aliases for their gmail.com counterparts. A user interested in having all of his or her mail sent to a gmail.com address only needs to change the reply-to address in the account settings page.

The Giersch Ventures lawsuit also forced Google to change the site's URL from gmail.google.com to mail.google.com, which briefly broke some applications and plugins that relied on it to access Gmail.

Gmail in the UK

On 19 October 2005, the UK version of Gmail was converted to Google Mail for similar reasons to those described above for Germany .

The Google Mail logo
The Google Mail logo

Privacy

There has been a great deal of criticism regarding Gmail's privacy policy. Some of the controversy surrounded the clause "residual copies of email may remain on our systems for some time, even after you have deleted messages from your mailbox or after the termination of your account." Many believed that this meant that Google would intentionally archive copies of deleted mail forever. Google continues to refute some of this criticism by pointing out that Gmail is using mostly industry wide practices. Google later stated that they will "make reasonable efforts to remove deleted information from our systems as quickly as is practical."

Most of the criticism, however, was against Google's plans to add context-sensitive advertisements to e-mails by automatically scanning them. Privacy advocates raised concerns that the plan involved scanning their personal, assumed private, e-mails, and that this was a security problem. Allowing e-mail content to be read, even by a computer, for advertising purposes, raises the risk that the constitutional expectation of privacy in e-mail will be reduced. Furthermore, non-subscribers' e-mail is scanned by Gmail as well, and these senders of e-mail did not agree to Gmail's terms of service or privacy policy. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Google can change its privacy policy unilaterally, and that Google is technically able to cross-reference cookies across its information-rich product line to make dossiers on individuals.

Opponents of these views state that when one's e-mail is checked to see if it is spam, it is being scanned by the same process. Because a human is not reading the message, they say, it is not a problem.

Another unresolved issue discussed amongst privacy advocates is the lack of disclosed data retention and correlation policies. More than 30 privacy and civil rights organizations have urged Google to suspend Gmail service until these issues are resolved .

See also

Add-Ins

Other email Providers

  • 30Gigs.com (actually ~600 MB)
  • AIM Mail (2 GB)
  • Hotmail (250 MB; 2 GB paid-subscription)
  • Yahoo! Mail (1 GB)

External links

Gmail tools

FAQs

Blogs


Google Guide made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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