back to article That's it, we're all really OLD: Google's Gmail is 10 ALREADY

Gmail shook up the world of free web email in the mid-2000s, but 10 years after going public in 2004, Google’s service offers much more than simply firing emails around the world. When Google unveiled Gmail on 1 April, 2004, the company’s co-founders reckoned the service was just its way of making email better. Gmail was, we …

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Devil

Shame about scanning emails to target advertising though

Everything went downhill from then on.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/07/google_nsa_intercepts_the_register_forecast_9_years_ago/

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Re: Shame about scanning emails to target advertising though

It's free, get over it.

If you want private mail you have to pay for it.

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WTF?

Re: Shame about scanning emails to target advertising though

There was advertising-supported webmail before gmail. Having advertising-supported webmail does not mean that your e-mail must be scanned.

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Re: Shame about scanning emails to target advertising though

The point isn't that the free service scans your mail, it's that Google made the legal argument that it wasn't 'reading' your emails since it was an automated scanning system that went through them. Which allowed the NSA to store and scan every American's emails without a warrant as they're "not reading them, even Google says so" and present that to various secretive courts.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Shame about scanning emails to target advertising though

Exactly.

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Great, but not entirely perfect..

I've loved Gmail since I was invited onto the Beta by a guru mate. Easy to use, loads of storage and, once I figured out how to use IMAP, syncs well across multiple devices.

However, a few years ago, I started getting email that was apparently aimed at me (used my name) but which was of no relevance - usually about jobs in Utica, Michigan or, in one case, travel insurance docs for someone's trip to Florida. It seems that Google has assigned my email addy - which I've had since the Beta - to someone else and both are operational. I get at least some of his email (and, possibly, he gets some of mine). I also get email intended for someone whose address is the same as mine, minus a dot in between 1st and 2nd names.

And, natch, if i try to email either of those people to let them know that I've received confirmation of their order for Cialis, and convince them to give up their (my!) addy, well, it's like peeing into the wind.

I know you can do clever things with email addresses like add a string after the name and before the @ so that you can tell how the addy got into the hands of spammers, but this is different. I presume this came about because early adopters were allowed to use just first name / second name as the address rather than including digits. Wish I'd picked Ivor.Biggun3012@gmail.com.

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Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

Gmail has never looked at dots in the email address joe.bloggs@gmail.com and joebloggs@gmail.com as well as j.o.e.b.l.o.g.g.s@gmail.com have always gone to the same mailbox.

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Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

Any "." in gmail email addresses has no meaning. See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/10313?hl=en

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Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

I get the same - funnily enough, it is also someone in Florida, who I managed to track down to an actual address based on the email content.

Unfortunately I can't find their real email address, which they obviously have a habit of getting wrong.

The dot has no meaning in Gmail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

Me too.

My US alter ego seems to attract spam from the Republican Party inviting donations and policy suggestions - I have set out at length the importance of a proper National Health Service, public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, redistributive taxation and teaching evolution in schools. I await the result.

He also needs his "tires" checked, whatever those are.

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Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

Try firstname.lastname@outlook.com, or yahoo.com, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

I get occasional emails to my GMail account (which is of the form <first initial><surname>) from random places too. Seems to be either from people who think they know their friend's/family member's email address, but haven't got it quite right (missed out a number at the end maybe?) or from websites where someone has registered but couldn't even get their own email address right.

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Re: Great, but not entirely perfect..

I too have a problem with receiving email intended for someone with the same name on gmail. It's been going on for years and it's always the same person.

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All that technology

And all it's used for is messages from Papajohn's saying my pizza will be ready in half an hour.

I have a Hotmail address for legacy reasons: I predate the MS takeover/demolition of it.

For mail that matters, I have a paid-for service, which *I* control.

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those so called 'killer features'...

...are roughly the minimum *starting point* I've expected from mail clients since the mid 90's. Even DOS clients ;)

Depressing to think the move to the browser set mail back so far, for so long that Googles horrible Gmail client was somehow revolutionary. I find it a lot more palatable using gmail as just a transport layer, even the mediocre Thunderbird front end beats Googles piss poor efforts.

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Meh

Re: those so called 'killer features'...

I would have killed for an email client that did conversation threading back in the day, or indeed for a spam filter that actually works. What were you using in the 90s that had those features?

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Re: those so called 'killer features'...

> What were you using in the 90s that had those features?

gnus (the mail client in emacs), but IIRC mutt did threading too. And, if I'm not mistaken, so did eudora on the mac.

Spam blocking was a bit more tricksy, but gnus allows you to do that too.

and it does newsgroups.

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MJI
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Our biggest mistake

Not buying the domain name when we had a product with a similar name.

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No, thanks.

This is quite a bit off-topic though. Years and years ago I was using yahoo groups (not e-mail) for quite some time. Young and foolish as I was I used my usual e-mail address but all was fine, no problem at all. Until I subscribed to a google newsgroup. And from that very moment spam started to flood in endlessly. I don't know exactly how the culprits retrieved my address but I'm pretty sure it was via this google group and it sustainably damaged my confidence in all things google. No gmail for me, I prefer paying for my own mail server.

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Re: No, thanks.

"Google Groups" are mostly just a wrapper around Usenet.

Posting on Usenet using unobscured email addresses has never really been a good idea - and 'never' goes back well before Google or even the WWW.

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Re: No, thanks.

I used a nontweaked address on USENET way back in the mid-90s. I still get spam on that address, though I haven't used it for anything serious for more than 15 years. Almost all of it is spam from Asia: Korea, mostly in Korean, Taiwan, some in Chinese and some in English, China, mostly in Chinese, Singapore, mostly in very good English (and mostly about real estate, apparently Singapore is a lot bigger than I'd thought) and Hong Kong, mostly in very bad English. I also get the usual Russian 'Canadian Viagra/Cialis' and 'genuine fake Rolex' spam. Every ever so often I set my filters to discard non-Latin characterset messages and 90+% of my spam goes away.

If I go near USENET nowadays I use a tweaked address, specifically to avoid spam, with my real address buried in the sig line. I still get spam, but not much. Apparently only the Russians care enough to dig deep enough to find the address in the sig.

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Re: No, thanks.

IDoNotThinkSo,

Absolutely, and I'd never use my real email address again. What did I know back then. And in the end, whatever is behind Google Groups, it's still branded Google.

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Meh

It has its uses...

Every time I need to set up a throw-away testing account, or sign up for something which might cause me to receive a deluge of shitemail - Gmail every time!

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Re: It has its uses...

You might want to try mailinator

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It has its uses...

shitemail@sogetthis.com ftw!

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You won't miss it till it's gone.

Our company moved from Lotus Notes to business GMail a number of years ago. When it was announced there was much gnashing of teeth especially by those who were weaned on the arcane interface that was Lotus notes.

After a few years we were taken over and our accounts moved back to MS outlook. Everyone I know now sorely misses GMail especially the improved search, sharing of documents and sites that came as part of the GMail cloud.

GMail showed that the cloud was here and it was a better, more efficient way of working

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Re: Gnashing of teeth moving away from Notes

If a similar move was announced at our place there would be a party in the street!

It's the single most hated piece of software in the company. Even SAP doesn't get the same level of abuse...

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Re: You won't miss it till it's gone.

I remember moving from Lotus Notes to Exchange/Outlook. I never liked LN's GUI (in fact, I think it's crap) but after the change I felt like being bombed back to Stone Age. This happened about ten years ago and, still on the MS stuff, I didn't experience much of an improvement since then.

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Re: You won't miss it till it's gone.

I agree, Lotus Notes had an appalling user interface even when new and it never improved. It did, however, have a lot of very useful features that many users missed in the obligatory move to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Microsoft haven't done much with Outlook except re-skin the main interface every few years (the same old back end dialogs are in place in places even in the latest "metro" version, the same old bugs and useless HTML rending are there as well), made it slower and even more resource hungry and bloated it with lock-in features that most users never notice or use.

On the other hand, has email functionality reached the limit of what is sensible? At which point refinements in email client user interfaces are just that.

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The kickback is coming

When I analysed the spam signups to the company forum 80% were from gmail accounts. The rest were predominately hotmail and yahoo. Given that our users are from manufacturing companies and the reading the content doesn't require signing up, there was no need to allow gmail registration (or hotmail/yahoo either). In the past year we have had 2 individual requests to allow registration from a gmail account.

Our spammer signups have reduced from 200+ a day to about 20 a month.

More and more forums are rejecting gmail and other free email services as a legitimate method of sign up.

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Re: The kickback is coming-

"More and more forums are rejecting gmail and other free email services as a legitimate method of sign up."

Catch 22.

I use a free disposable account on forums because I don't trust them to keep my details private. Some do, some don't, so my private email stays exactly that - private.

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Re: 80% were from gmail accounts

They may have looked like they were from GMail accounts, but I doubt that they actually were.

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Anonymous Coward

near-watertight spam protection

shame I get shitload of spam FROM gmail accounts.

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Re: near-watertight spam protection

> shame I get shitload of spam FROM gmail accounts.

They might have come from an @gmail address, but I very much doubt they saw a google mail server on the way to you.

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Re: near-watertight spam protection

They signed up for an email account on a google mail server. The IP address that they came from is listed on honeypots as having sent numerous spam. For forums the email has to be active and receiving mail for them to complete the forum signup process. The sign ups are mostly via bots. There is plenty of opportunity for a competent supplier of free mail accounts to detect spammers. It probably costs a bit to do so though, and thus that cost is passed on to everyone else. Screw them. If they can't stop their users from polluting the web then the web needs to shut them off at source.

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Anonymous Coward

Numbers of gmail users

When I setup an android tablet and needed a play account, I had two options - link it to my existing email address, or set up a single purpose account - for which gmail was sufficient and natively supported.

So I have a gmail account (which receives confirmations of purchases from the play store, and the occasional bit of advertising) a Live email account (which syncs things across Windows 8 and is my login to a (Sky)OneDrive account ), and another email account (which I use for actual email communications)

Now I'm not going to claim that means you can divide google's numbers by three to get to a more representative estimate of users who use gmail accounts as their primary email, but I suspect more than a few were set up to coincide with the purchase of an androidy device. Or as a result of collectivisation of youtube accounts.

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Meh

I can't stand the conversation view. After a few replies I find it almost impossible to find (and respond to) what I'm lookign for. At least on the web front end you can turn the damn thing off, unlike the phone apps...

Similarly I had to fudge a filter to turn of that damn important email stuff. I just want a plain old inbox where the newest messages are at the top. I don't want some algorithm moving email about where I won't see it because it seems to think it knows what I'm thinking.

Still, bit of a shock that it's been 10 years!

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Settings button (the one that looks like a cog) > Configure inbox > untick everything but 'primary'

Then settings button (again) > Settings > Labels > switch important (and anything else you didn't want) to 'hide'

It's not that hard.

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FAIL

Re: It's not that hard.

No, but it is annoying to have to keep de-crapifying Gmail every time Google wants to tack some new shit on to it.

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Re: It's not that hard.

Fair enough, I'll concede to that. But it amazes me the number of people who complain about some new feature cluttering the interface, but never actually check the settings to see if they can turn it off. My wife and extended family included, even though some of them are computer literate in many other ways.

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Great but not for business

Webmail is possible the best ever web invention, and Gmail is gr8. But this article reads like it was written by Google. Google docs/collaborative tools are spoken of at length, without even a mention of the many ineluctable arguments against their adoption by business, which circulate around loss of control, ownership, security and secrecy.

How would Google inc. like to put its critical business documentation on somebody else's server, in another country, under alien laws? Eg. Tax returns ? Redundancy plans ?

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Childcatcher

Re: Great but not for business

It works good for smaller businesses. A mega corporation, probably not so much. For chit-chat among workers/managers for non-sensitive communication it's really hard to beat free. Plus you don't have to send an email using sexydaddy123455@whatevermail.com to send a message to an employee.

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Mushroom

Conversation/Threading view is sh*te

As far as I can tell, you want to delete one email from a thread, it deletes the whole damn thread. It's the sole reason I don't use the Android gmail app where threading is not optional.

With the idiots I have to correspond with, I'd end up with half the conversations being "me too!" that I wanted to trim out.

Does anyone know a way around this retarded brokeness?

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Re: Conversation/Threading view is sh*te

@Gene Cash

Click on a conversation to open it, see the 'reply' button, there is a drop-down arrow. Click on it. 5th one down is 'delete this message'.

What am I? Googles tech support?

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number of Gmail subscribers ranges between 289 million and 425 million

How many hundred million of those are people who bought an Android phone, need a Gmail account to use it and have never used it for email?

I use my Android required Gmail account for contacting one person and only read it on my phone so I never see the adverts. All my other email goes through my other work or personal accounts. I refuse to put anything else through a system that scans everything I read/write.

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Re: number of Gmail subscribers ranges between 289 million and 425 million

<looks at Android phone> Errm... I have an Android phone and have never turned email on it on. I use it as... a phone. Don't need email there. I've never downloaded an app on that phone. I've never even turned on the web interface. (Well, not after testing it in the store to see if it worked, just in case I ever needed to use it.) I got that phone (a Gingerbread device with pitiful RAM and storage) precisely because it was the cheapest phone available and I wanted to use it only as a phone. I really wanted a flip phone to replace my previous flip phone, but they didn't have any available. My Android is on the same account as my iPad... and +that+ has Gmail turned on, and has apps, and is used to talk to the Internet.

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Facepalm

Hotmail has always been for idiots ... netscape.net (later integrated into AIM/AOL) offered 5Mb storage in 1997 + IMAP and 250Mb way before gmail came around. I could send a 3Mb email message with my netscape.net account in 1997 ... arguably just one (until I removed it from "sent items"), but hey, three times more than hotmail ...

I remember back in ~2000, pruning CV's ... hotmail email address? := trashcan

.... sorry for whoever got binned like that, but we had too many applicants for the various positions and had to start somewhere, besides, if you cannot count to 5 you are no good for a business.

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Seeing screenshots of the old Gmail...

...reminds me how much I liked it. I've got used to the G+ style since, but I turned it off for as long as I could.

As an aside, if they want a new killer feature, I've got one I suggested to them years ago: Let me select multiple emails with different subjects and put them in one 'conversation'. It's a pita when someone changes the subject slightly and forces the whole thing into a different list.

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Facepalm

How long.....

Yep just checked - I first got an gmail account on the first of November 2004.

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