New Apps Subscribers Face Gmail Activation Delay

Google hopes to solve on Tuesday afternoon a problem that has kept recent subscribers to its Apps suite from accessing their new Gmail accounts.

After an organization completes the process to transfer its domain to Apps, it typically takes about 48 hours for its end users' Gmail accounts to turn on, a Google spokesman said.

However, for accounts created since around late Friday evening, the activation process is taking longer due to a Google glitch that has slowed down the DNS (Domain Name System) propagation process, he said.

Frustrated Google Apps administrators have been reporting the trouble in the official discussion forum for this hosted collaboration and communications application suite.

As explained by administrators in the forum, the main problem with the delay is that once the process to transfer control of their domain to Google Apps begins, they can't access their e-mail anymore until their Gmail accounts get activated.

For now, when affected users try to access their inboxes, they get an error message indicating that the e-mail service is not available.

Google expects to have the problem fixed at 3 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Google's spokesman said, adding that because the problem struck over a weekend, the number of affected users is small. More than 1 million businesses use Google Apps.

On Monday at around noon E.T., a Google representative identified as Angela posted a message on the forum saying that the company was investigating the issue.

Understandably, Apps administrators affected by the problem have been getting impatient. "Come on Google Apps advisors, please at least give us an update on this issue. This is a major problem for many of us, especially those that have sold the idea that email in the cloud is better than anything else out there. We look really bad to our clients/bosses right now and we have no information to give them because you guys aren't communicating with us," wrote one at around 9 a.m. E.T. on Tuesday.

The second update by Google was posted shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, explaining in more detail the nature of the problem and its expected resolution time.

Google Apps is a hosted collaboration and communication suite aimed at workplace use that includes various applications, including Gmail.

Apps' Standard and Education versions are free, while the more sophisticated Premier edition costs US$50 per user per year and includes, among other goodies, a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee for Gmail and access to phone support.

Last week, a Gmail outage that lasted about 30 hours affected some Google Apps customers. Also last week, an unrelated bug affected both the layout and functionality of the suite's Start portal pages in some Apps accounts for about 16 hours.

In August, Gmail had three significant outages and as a result, Google decided to extend a credit to all Apps Premier customers and said it would do better at notifying users of problems.

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